Sir Andrew Dilnot and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt are among 28 figures from across the political spectrum, social care and the NHS joining forces later today (Thursday) to urge the Prime Minister to honour his promise to fix social care.
At a conference, organised by the Future Social Care Coalition, they will outline their own recommendations for a social care workforce strategy, or ‘people plan’, that mirrors the blueprint for improving conditions for NHS staff.
It comes nearly a decade after economist Sir Andrew published his report into how to deliver a fair, affordable and sustainable funding system for social care in England.
The conference will hear how successive governments have missed this and numerous other opportunities to reform what remains an inadequate and unfair system.
Three-quarters of care staff (73%) earn less than the real living wage of £9.50 per hour (£10.85 in London) – that’s 604,000 in England – and a quarter (24%) are employed on zero-hours contracts.
The conference is expected to hear that an end to poverty pay would show the government respects and values care workers.
The social care people plan should be implemented as soon as possible after the pandemic to ensure staff working in care homes and in the community – and the people they look after – are no longer neglected and ignored by the government, say the health and social care leaders.
Fair wages for care employees will be among key proposals unveiled at the virtual Time for a Social Care People Plan conference.
The event is expected to be attended by three former secretaries of state and representatives from bodies including Health Education England, NHS Confederation, Local Government Association, as well as employer, employee and charity organisations.
The government has recently been criticised for its inadequate reply to a House of Commons petition signed by nearly 24,000 people, which is calling for better pay and support for care workers.
The House of Commons Petitions Committee has written to health secretary Matt Hancock requesting a revised response because the first one ‘did not directly address the request of the petition’.
Co-chair of the Future Social Care Coalition and UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘The shortcomings in social care should have been fixed long ago. But governments of all persuasions have failed repeatedly to deliver a plan for reform.
‘Care workers are on the forgotten front line as this pandemic has repeatedly shown. They and the people they look after deserve better – it’s time they got a fair deal.’
Phil Hope, co-chair of the Future Social Care Coalition and a former minister of state for care services, said: ‘The government is embarking on an important reorganisation of the NHS which, quite rightly, puts collaboration not competition at its heart.
‘But any reform must also seize the opportunity to put social care on an equal footing with the NHS. This means truly joining the two up as a partnership of equals to provide people with a seamless service giving better care.
‘It all starts with the workforce, and a comprehensive social care ‘people plan’ should be based on a new promise to care staff that they will be given the recognition, respect and remuneration they deserve. This is in return for the amazing work they do in caring for the most vulnerable in our communities.’
Other figures who will be speaking at or attending the event include Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, former secretary of state for health Stephen Dorrell. Frances O’Grady from the TUC, Helen Walker from Carers UK; National Care Association chair Nadra Ahmed, Caroline Abrahams from the Care and Support Alliance and Vic Rayner from the National Care Forum.
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