The Future Social Care Coalition is calling for a major funding package and a fair wage deal for low-paid staff.
The new cross-party alliance, made up of employers, former health and care ministers and the UK’s largest social care union, says an immediate £3.9bn emergency support fund is needed from the government to get the care sector through the pandemic’s second wave.
The money would also guarantee a significant wage boost to all social care employees in England says the Coalition, whose members include the National Care Association, the Care and Support Alliance, which includes Age UK, Carers UK, and Alzheimer’s Society – and UNISON.
Andy Burnham, Sir Norman Lamb, and Alistair Burt are among several former ministers who have joined the new group, which represents an unprecedented collaboration between organisations and individuals.
Coalition advisory board co-chair and UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘Care has long been the forgotten service. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the sector’s faults like nothing else.
‘Its problems cannot be ignored for a moment longer. This unprecedented alliance brings together employers, politicians and the biggest care union to make a powerful case for change. Now the government needs to listen and start to take the care crisis more seriously.
‘Care needs urgent and lasting reform. Paying dedicated staff who look after our elderly and vulnerable relatives a proper wage would start to transform care into a service fit for the future.’
In a letter to Rishi Sunak, the group says Covid-19 has magnified problems that have existed in the sector for years and emphasises the urgent need for government intervention, making it clear this issue must no longer be ignored.
Workers on the ‘forgotten frontline’ are existing on poverty wages and zero-hours contracts, and job vacancies are causing huge problems for employers, the Coalition adds.
A substantial increase in resources for the care sector is needed now, along with a long-term solution guaranteeing ‘affordable, quality care for everyone that needs it now and in the future’, says the letter.
The letter urges the Chancellor to find the resources to bring about change in social care. This would allow the sector to begin to treated with the same respect as the NHS, and develop a comprehensive workforce strategy with better training and rates of pay.
Charity director at Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance Caroline Abrahams said: ‘Care workers have been the invisible heroes throughout the pandemic. They’ve been on the frontline giving their all while looking after older and disabled people.
‘Many have put their own health and financial worries to one side, and some have tragically even paid the ultimate price.
‘The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the need for strengthening the workforce. Social care is a people business and it’s impossible to deliver good care without enough committed, well-trained workers.
‘The government must now do everything possible to help care workers at this very stressful time. That includes paying them a decent wage.’
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