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STUC 2008



Home care charge hikes and cuts slammed

By Kate Ramsden

Stephen Smellie
Stephen Smellie

UNISON joined with Fife Trade Union Councils to condemn the many councils across Scotland that are increasing home care charges and reducing the time allocated to vulnerable elderly and disabled people. It urged congress to campaign against these disgraceful cuts in service which impact most on the most vulnerable in our society.

Stephen Smellie of UNISON Scotland slammed the increased charges, and told congress that other attacks on home care services were less obvious but no less worrying. He pointed to huge reductions in the amount of time home carers can spend with their service users, and to assessment criteria being altered so that only those regarded as high dependency get a service.

"What is happening is a form of rationing of public resources because of a lack of investment in home care services - and with an increasing elderly population, this is getting worse year after year," he said, warning of the increasing pressure to "externalise" services to find cheaper options. "From a union perspective this also means a real threat to members' jobs," he added.

He called on Congress to campaign for more resources to invest in staff, to keep services accessible to all who need them and to improve flexibility, reliability and quality. "The first minister talked about two key elements for the future of Scotland; investment in human capital, allied to a competitive edge," Stephen told delegates. "In the Scotland that we want, we need to invest in human capital and ally that to supporting and caring for the most vulnerable in our society."

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