Social Care

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 14th November 2018.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

I am sorry, but I do not have time.

In a survey of care workers conducted by Unison, almost half of carers said that they were limited to specific times with clients. One in two workers said that they were not reimbursed for travel between client visits and three in four said that they expected the situation to get much worse during the coming year. The survey also revealed that one in 10 carers were on zero-hours contracts.

I do not know how many members read the briefing from Enable Scotland, but it made the important point about the treatment of social care workers that

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported in 2016 that 15% of the social care workforce are in in-work poverty. This means that we have Scotland’s most vulnerable people being cared for by Scotland’s most vulnerable workforce.”

The introduction of the living wage was meant to improve the situation. However, I ask the Government to look into the claims that some organisations still do not pay the living wage and therefore that carers are still being paid poverty wages.

I will go further and point out that most politicians in the Parliament queued up to offer their support to the people, mostly women, in Glasgow who—quite rightly—went on strike for equal pay a few weeks ago. However, that begs the question: should we not support equal pay for all workers in the care sector? Poor pay and poor terms and conditions lead to higher turnover and increased challenges in recruitment and training, and they create a false economy.

We know that caring for people in their own home or, if they need it, in a care home is far less costly than caring for people in hospital. Why would we therefore not spend the money that is needed to build a high-quality social care sector that pays well, employs local people and puts care at the forefront of its activities? That would require a significant change in thinking from where we are now and Scottish Labour is calling for that change. We will work with the Government if it is willing to make that radical transformation in social care.

I finish by saying to the cabinet secretary that, right across Scotland, local authorities are reporting that there are massive overspends in the IJBs. We have a problem and we want to work with the Government on it, but we have to face the reality of the situation out there right now.

I move,

That the Parliament believes in a health and social care system based on human rights, where people receive care according to their need, not on their ability to pay; recognises the immediate and long-term challenges to social care delivery and is concerned about high levels of turnover in the social care sector; further recognises the commitment of social care staff to delivering high-quality care but considers there to still be a disparity between the value of social care to society and staff’s level of pay and working conditions; considers that social care workers, and the professional services that they provide, should be held in the same high regard as clinical health care; affirms the Scottish Government’s aim of shifting the balance of care from acute settings into the community but believes that this cannot be achieved without a significant increase in resources and investment in social care services; notes a central theme of the Fraser of Allander Institute publication, Scotland’s Budget Report 2018, that it is not sustainable to protect the health budget at the expense of local authorities’ budgets, and calls on the Scottish Government to work in partnership with local government and NHS boards to develop a financial model that will provide long-term stability for both health and social care in Scotland.