Date: 21 April 2009
Cuts and tendering threaten social care - social workers warn
The Scottish TUC today heard that Scotland’s social care system
is on the brink of crisis. UNISON, the union representing the
vast majority of Scotland’s social services staff, says that a
combination of increasing demand and cuts in funding threaten
The situation is worsened by the use of tendering processes for
home and residential care, that end up with low-cost companies
taking over and driving down standards of care.
The union also blames the concordat between the Scottish Government
and councils as a ‘straitjacket’.
UNISON delegate, Kate Ramsden, herself a social worker, said
to the Congress “The continuing understaffing of children and
families work is getting worse with the increasing demand for
more savings, and as demand increases the widening gap can only
increase the chances of further tragedies, such as Brandon Muir
or ‘Baby P’.”
In moving a motion calling for a campaign to demand quality
social services in Scotland, Kate also pointed out that although
child protection is the sharp end of social care, care for other
vulnerable people is also threatened.
“Last weeks Panorama investigation sharply pointed out the problems
of relying on cost to supply home care.” said Ms Ramsden .
“If the only issue being judged is price, you end up with privatised
services, delivered by poorly trained, under resourced staff who
have no time to deliver proper care.”
A UNISON UK-wide survey of social work staff, published in January
2009, identified reduced resources, staff vacancies, increased
caseloads, inadequate supervision, remote leadership, lack of
focus on the rights of the child, agencies passing the buck to
social work and excessive bureaucracy with a lack of admin support
as issues making things worse than they were six years ago.
Kate said “Our members want to work to high standards. Whether
they work for the council or the voluntary sector, they want to
be accountable, want to protect children, and provide proper home
care services. But they tell us that too often they are being
asked to do this with one hand tied behind their back”. “
Inspections rightly point to practice and leadership issues but
they never explicitly address resources. To ignore the fact that
there are too few people to achieve the standards we all want
just covers up the problem”, she added.
Notes for Editors: The UNISON survey is announced on http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/2009/janfeb/2601.htm
, and available on http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B4416.pdf
For Further Information Please Contact: Kate Ramsden (UNISON
Social Work Issues Group) 07767 027 722 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)