UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
over 145,000 members working in the public sector. We are the
largest trade union in the health and social care sector with
many members providing services to people with care needs who
may be eligible to receive direct payments as an alternative
means of funding service provision.
UNISON has a strong commitment to the human
rights of disabled or disadvantaged groups and would include
in this disabled or vulnerable people who require assistance
of some form with healthcare, social or personal care.
UNISON recognises the impact that control over
service provision can have in the enhancement of the independence
and well being of many service users including, for example,
disabled or elderly people.
However, UNISON is also committed to the retention
of high quality public services in Scotland. The union opposes
the externalisation of such services by privatisation or other
means, and we are committed to preserving and protecting the
rights of UNISON members in the event of the externalisation
Response by UNISON Scotland
UNISON recognises that concerns about the externalisation or
privatisation of services through direct payments have to be
seen in the context of the relatively low take up of this service
UNISON also recognises the dilemma giving rise to this consultation.
We are aware that many people with significant care needs struggle
to source a personal assistant or care provider for reasons
connected to race, gender, location and other factors.
Nevertheless, we wish to restate our position on direct payments
generally which is as follows:
- Appropriate user-focused care services can be delivered
flexibly by public sector care providers.
- Employment under direct payments cannot be on terms any
less favourable than those offered in the public sector and
this should apply with particular reference to pay and pensions.
- There is an argument that the transfer of some care packages
to direct payments may, in some cases, be a transfer that
is covered by TUPE and that public sector terms and conditions
may apply as a matter of law.
- In cases where TUPE applies, workers employed in the public
services on a particular care package may have a right to
transfer with that package and become employed under the direct
- There are concerns as to the provision under Direct Payments
employment for health and safety, employers liability insurance,
Race Relations Act compliance and other employment matters.
- There is ongoing concern and confusion over the identity
of the employer in employment relationship funded by direct
- Within the direct payments sector there is a danger that
a culture takes hold under which agencies and funders seek
to avoid examining employer obligations in full detail for
fear of scaring service users from taking on the role of employer.
UNISON's view is that employment under direct payments is
only lawful and viable where would-be employers are required
to meet their obligations in full. Service users must be funded
in full so they can meet their legal obligations and these
obligations must be set out in clear terms.
- Given the rationale behind the establishment of the Care
Commission and the Social Services Council; and given what
we know about the level of violence and abuse perpetrated
by close family members; there is no good reason why the regulation
of care and the registration of care staff should not extend
to include the direct payments sector.
Notwithstanding these concerns, and the fact that many are
not adequately addressed within the present structure of direct
payments, UNISON offers qualified support for the extension
of direct payments to the employment of close relatives in exceptional
We accept, without qualification, the case for short-term care
to a terminally ill person would appropriately be provided by
a close relative. However, cases of this nature will be the
exception and not the rule.
If a service user in a remote rural area has difficulty recruiting
a personal assistant then before consideration is given to employing
a close family member, priority consideration should be given
to the restoration of care from the nearest statutory provider.
Employment of a close family member should only be a last resort.
For all the reasons stated above, the Executive should be determined
to avoid the situation where the employment of close relatives
becomes established as a routine option for service users.