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Social care: who pays?

March 24, 2010

I went along to the launch of a new report by UNISON on personalisation yesterday. The report, written by senior academics at Bristol University, argues that underfunding is leading to increased privatisation and plummeting standards.   The report calls for a sea change in the way employment in social care is viewed, to increase recruitment and retention, and improve training and career opportunities.  It recommends a boost in support for personal assistants, for them to be employed and regulated by local authorities, and help for people managing their own personal budget.   UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis argues that personalised budgets are being rushed through, without enough funding, risking valued local services such as day centres, and community transport. To accompany the report UNISON launched a powerful video of social care workers talking about the time pressures and lack of training for the responsibilities, such as helping with medicines.  One of the interesting issues explored is that those holding personalised budgets can find themselves becoming employers, a role that few would actively want to take on. UNISON’s solution is a National Care Service, something that the current government have said they support, but not how they would organise or fund. A White Paper saying more on this is imminent and may be published alongside the Budget. I doubt we will see real progress though until a Royal Commission or some other means of achieving political consensus, takes place. In the meantime, the LGiU and All Party Parliamentary Local Government Group report: Never too late for living, remains an important contribution to the debate because of the consensus that we achieved around key issues.

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