Local authorities will lose services and jobs to the private sector through the personalisation reforms, Unison members warned yesterday.
Council workers condemned personal budgets as an exercise in cost-cutting and privatisation at the local government conference in Bournemouth.
Under the Putting People First programme, local authorities in England must transform their adult social care systems with £520m of government funding over the next three years. Service users will be given the freedom to spend their budget according to their needs and employ people who they want to care for them.
But members of the union, which represents 300,000 social care workers in the UK, said the changes would threaten the stability of traditional care teams.
Personalisation will “mask cuts“
“Instead of raising the status of the workforce, this movement could do the opposite,” said Vicky Ingram, of the union’s service group executive.
“Personalisation is helping to mask cuts in funding and is being rushed out ahead of information as to where the funding is going to come from.
“We have to fight for better-funded services to support vulnerable people.”
“Privatisation and fragmentation”
Speaking on behalf of Unison’s Newcastle branch, Danielle Jeffries told more than 1,000 delegates at the conference she supported the concepts of increased control and choice.
“But in reality it means privatisation and the fragmentation of services,” she added.
“It means services provided in an unregulated market, not registration, no standards, and no minimum training requirements.”
Sonya Howard, service conditions officer at the Kensington and Chelsea Unison branch in London, supports elderly people as a social worker. She said some service users would not wish to take on the responsibility of managing a care budget, particularly those in their nineties.
Members supported a motion calling on local authorities to continue to provide services directly as an option for service users, and for personal budgets to be funded “at a sufficient level to give service users the choice to purchase care from properly trained and well-rewarded staff”.