Comment: “Social care could be the gift that keeps on giving for Scotland. But only if the government rethinks its budget”

Marking the launch of our new Rethink To 13 campaign, Rachel Cackett argues that £12 p/h for staff is too low, is ethically wrong, and flies in the face of what Scotland need to enjoy equality, opportunity and community

On the 19th December, during the last week of 2023 for the Scottish Parliament, the government will publish its draft budget.

In unprecedented times, we are hoping for something a bit different from this budget.

For years now, there have been calls for the Scottish Government to be far more transparent in setting out how its draft budget is intended to match investment to its stated priorities. This is a primary task of government: To ensure that funds raised from the public are invested in the things the democratically elected government has told us are important.

And when things are tight, justifying the allocation of too few resources to those things that a government says matters most is more important than ever.

So, perhaps the government can do something different this year.

The first minister has stated that all funding decisions must deliver against three things:

  1. Equality, by tackling poverty and protecting people from harm during the cost-of-living crisis
  2. Opportunity through a fair, green and growing wellbeing economy that can support improved living standards, reduce poverty, and sustain high quality public services, and
  3. Community by prioritising public services – building sustainability and reducing inequality.

So, perhaps we can expect the budget to be structured to show clearly how decisions to invest – and disinvest – will deliver these.

Perhaps, for example, we will see a commitment to the funding of sustainable social care services that support families facing poverty or destitution in the current financial climate to stay afloat, to keep a home, to feed their families and keep children in school.

Or to services that support disabled people, or people with long term health conditions – who face a myriad of daily inequities – to maintain their right to independent living and stay well in their own homes.

Or to mental health services that help prevent adults and children reaching crisis – and stop yet more people waiting too long for NHS services that just aren’t there – so that they can live connected, engaged lives as participants in work, school, family and community.

Or to the availability of social care and support for everyone who needs it so that unpaid carers can maintain jobs that can keep their families afloat.

Or to those staff in our sector, overwhelmingly women, who provide care and support to some of the most vulnerable members of my family and yours – but are paid far less than those in the public sector to do equivalent jobs simply because the government doesn’t provide enough funds.

Staff who may often work – and spend their wages – in the communities they support. Staff who are often working part time to juggle their unpaid caring responsibilities.   Staff who desperately need equality, opportunity and community.

You see, social care and support – ever the Cinderella of public service investment – could be the FM’s answer this Christmas. It could be the gift that keeps on giving; the glue that binds his priorities to effective investment. But it’s only possible with a workforce to deliver it.

And there’s the issue.

Half the people who moved jobs in our sector last year left social care altogether. And the unethical approach to embedding pay inequity into public service delivery means staff continue to leave and social care isn’t always there when you, or I, or our loved ones need it.

The FM has already imposed a £12 p/h pay deal for social care and support staff in our sector next year and, sadly, we expect to see this confirmed in the draft Budget on 19 December. But this won’t help the government meet its own budget priorities; it will undermine them.

So, Scottish Government, rethink your budget.

Investing at the very least £13 p/h in 2024-25 for all social care staff in our sector is the absolute minimum that will cut it – and that only as a first step in a plan to reach parity in pay.

£12 is too low; it’s ethically wrong; and it flies in the face of what you’ve told us it matters to invest in and what many people in Scotland need to enjoy equality, opportunity and community.

Please. Rethink your budget.

#RethinkTo13

Find out more about the campaign here.

News: 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign launched to bring step change in social care

New CCPS campaign amplifies voices of sector and civic society, urging the Scottish Government to pledge to invest and give hope of equality

The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland today launches a national campaign calling on the Scottish Government to deliver Fair Work for Scotland’s not-for-profit social care staff.

The campaign draws on evidence from CCPS’s membership organisations about the acute pressures currently being faced by their services as a result of the Scottish Government’s base pay rate for staff of £10.90, which is leading to staff leaving the workforce and many services being jeopardised.

The initiative aims to influence Scottish Government to take 4 Steps to Fair Work for social care staff and announce a timetable for investment. The 4 Steps are:

1. Deal with pay inequality: As a first step, implement the promise of a minimum of £12 per hour for social care staff, starting from 1 April 2023.

2. Ensure equal pay for equal work: Apply pay uplifts to staff in all services, not just those in registered adult social care.

3. Value all staff who play their part: Deliver funding packages that value the crucial role of support staff and managers, alongside frontline workers.

4. Give us hope of equality: Publish a timetable by this September to deliver fully on Fair Work in Social Care by 2025.

Launching the campaign, CCPS’s Chief Executive Rachel Cackett said:

“We may not always ‘see’ it, but social care and support is a fundamental; it touches all of us at points through our lives. But it mostly happens behind closed doors and is often obscured behind the big headlines about the crisis in the NHS.

“Social care needs to be championed in public for its crucial role in supporting people to realise their right to independence, their connections with the people and places that matter to them, their wellbeing, and their ability to participate in work, school and community.

“The Scottish Government needs to start talking about why social care matters – not just to keep the NHS on its feet, but to keep people on theirs. And it needs to articulate a plan for how it will invest in, and finally deliver, Fair Work.”

“This campaign is a first step on that journey and we hope everyone who cares about Fair Work will give it their support.”

Through the campaign CCPS’s members and wider civic society will alert the Scottish Government to why delivering on Fair Work is fundamental for the future of Scotland’s social care workforce.

Over the next three months, in the run-up to the Programme for Government and spending review, CCPS will be sharing voices, views and calls to action through the campaign.

Find out more about the campaign and take part.

Comment: Why care homes are not alone in a sector facing intense pressure

Our Chief Executive Rachel Cackett responds to news about the status of care home funding

Rachel Cackett

Responding to news about the status of care home funding across Scotland today, Rachel Cackett, CEO of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers, said:

“The situation for care homes is clearly very serious just now – and care homes are not alone in contending with sustainability issues fuelled by insufficient funding increases and too few staff. Not-for-profit social care is facing these issues in all services right now.

Our member organisations report intense pressure across the breadth of their provision, in community- and residential-based services for older people, in services for people with disabilities, and in services supporting children and families.

Why is this happening? In a large part because, despite a commitment to Fair Work in Social Care dating back to 2019, the Scottish Government has chosen to raise the minimum wage in our sector by just 3.8% to £10.90 this year.

That is an uplift only applied to staff providing registered services to adults. There is no commitment to other social care staff, for example those working in children’s services. The result is more and more of the workforce leaving social care for better terms and conditions elsewhere, jeopardising many key services.

We need to see immediate action on a pay uplift to £12 for all social care staff and across all services.

Amidst this crisis, it’s also vital we remember that there are real people at the heart of all these services. People who need support to thrive and take charge of their lives, and to play an active part in their families, communities, school and work.

We need to see a fair social care system in which workers and people who use services are truly valued. That is central to the First Minister’s vison of delivering on equality, opportunity and community in Scotland.

Unless the pay inequality being experienced by social care staff is addressed it will be impossible to fulfil that pledge.”