Christina McAnea, co-chair of the Future Social Care Coalition (FSCC) and UNISON assistant general secretary, explains why employers, unions and politicians from all parties came together this month to launch call for a fair deal for carers.
The FSCC has united organisations and individuals with the aim of bringing about seismic change in the sector. Even former ministers from across the political divide have joined the group, including Andy Burnham, Sir Norman Lamb, and Alistair Burt.
The Coalition is committed to driving up standards, ensuring the workforce is paid a fair wage and providing the best quality care to those unable to look after themselves, such as the elderly and disabled.
Together, its members, including the National Care Association, the Care and Support Alliance, and UNISON, the UK’s largest social care union, have delivered a stark message to government: care must no longer be the forgotten frontline.
For decades, the sector has been waiting for adequate funding and reform, to be treated as equal with the NHS and benefit from the same training and rates of pay. And for decades, those voices calling for action have been ignored.
Instead, it has taken a pandemic to place social care at the very top of the domestic policy agenda. A system which encourages poverty wages, vacant posts and the poor treatment of the workforce has been exposed as unsustainable.
What’s more alarming is that government neglect and lack of investment has put the lives of people in care homes at risk, as demonstrated within the context of COVID.
Waiting for tragedy shouldn’t be the way to trigger action. However, now the spotlight has been shone on the woeful state of the sector, we must ensure heightened public knowledge and appreciation of social care is translated into real change.
That is why the FSCC has written to the Chancellor calling for an immediate £3.9bn emergency support fund. This is the minimum needed from the government to get the care sector through the pandemic’s second wave and would also give a long overdue wage boost to all employees.
In the longer term, the Coalition is emphasising the need to address workforce issues, such as developing better pay and conditions, and for the sector to be paid the same respect as the health service.
There have been many initiatives and campaigns calling for decisive government action on care. But never one like the FSCC, which brings so many different groups together with a common aim, including those who represent people receiving care and their families.
Social care must no longer be overlooked and disregarded. The government must now listen if we are to create a service fit for the future.
If you/your organisation are interested in joining the Coalition, please visit the following:
Link to video of the launch event: https://www.youtube.com/embed/WA80bxfrD4A