Six former health and care ministers back social care workforce proposals

·3-min read

Six former health and social care ministers have backed proposals to reform the social care workforce in the absence of long-awaited Government plans.

The Future Social Care Coalition (FSCC) put forward a social care people plan framework supported by 24 individuals and organisations including employers, trade unions and care alliances.

It has cross-party support from six former ministers, including former Labour health secretary Andy Burnham, the Liberal Democrats’ former community and social care minister Sir Norman Lamb, and Alistair Burt, former community and social care minister for the Conservatives.

The framework is published ahead of proposals for wider reform of the sector from the Government, which were promised almost two years ago by Boris Johnson upon his election to Downing Street.

Signatories are calling for the Government to take forward a people plan for social care to mirror the NHS people plan, taking into account their 12 recommendations.

These include that the plan should recommend care and support worker pay is increased to the real living wage level and that the Government should consult on a compulsory national register of workers.

It should also include a commitment to a healthy and safe national workforce guaranteed through a binding charter of good practice, they said.

And the plan should detail how the Government will help create “national pride” in the sector, for example through creating a Royal College for Social Care and a care and support workers day, they added.

The framework will be launched at the coalition’s summit on Thursday, which will be attended by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, shadow social care minister Liz Kendall and Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green.

It follows frustration after a meeting on the future of social care between the Prime Minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock was reportedly postponed.

Phil Hope, former minister for care services and FSCC co-chair, said the plan was developed with all parts of the sector so “no social care worker is left behind”.

He said: “Covid has highlighted many of the long-term problems that continue to blight social care, particularly the need for an immediate, substantial and sustained injection of funding, alongside long-overdue reform of the sector.

“Many people will need social care at some point in their lives, which is why we need to act now to overhaul how the sector, and its workforce, is treated.

“That is why it is so bitterly disappointing to hear that plans for a high-level Government meeting to progress plans for reform have been deferred. Now is the time to get social care done.”

Christina McAnea, FSCC co-chair and Unison general secretary, said there have been a multitude of promises but “absolutely no tangible plans”.

She said: “The social care people plan has been written by those who know what a dire state the sector’s in.

“It’s essential the UK provides decent care for the elderly and vulnerable, and its workforce must be valued and rewarded in a way that matches the highly skilled work it does.

“Social care must become a source of national pride and held in the same high regard as the NHS.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The social care sector has been an essential and valued part of the front line response to the pandemic and we have sought to protect the workforce and those receiving social care, providing almost £1.8 billion for the sector including infection prevention, control measures and prioritised the sector for the vaccine.

“We are committed to the sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and, as set out in the Queen’s Speech, we will bring forward proposals later this year to ensure every person receives the care they need, provided with the dignity they deserve.”

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