Tories’ co-op plans unworkable in social care, says Unison

Conservative proposals to reward public sector workers who form co-operatives that attract service users are "unworkable" for social care, according to Unison.

Conservative proposals to reward public sector worker co-operatives for attracting new service users are “unworkable” for social care, according to Unison.

In its public sector manifesto, published on Saturday, the Conservatives reiterated plans to allow social workers and other professionals to take over the services they run by establishing co-ops.

Staff would be paid according to outcome-based contracts with councils and other commissioners or their ability to attract service users, such as parents and patients.

“Our aim is to give direct power and control to staff, and replace bureaucracy with a culture that embraces professionals’ own judgement, enterprise and ideas,” states the manifesto.

But Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social workers, said: “The idea that social workers should be paid for attracting new clients is not only ridiculous and unworkable, but dangerous.

“Even if social workers were motivated by the chance to earn a few extra pounds by rounding up additional clients, what good would this do if there are not the resources to provide a decent service?

“Social workers are already struggling with heavy caseloads and escalating council cuts.”

The Conservatives would also oblige all public services to publish outcomes data online so they could be held to account.

“A social worker’s job is very complex, and it is very difficult to quantify outcomes,” Pile said.

“Publishing outcomes is all very well, but unless there is a requirement to publish information on the pressures in the service, such as caseloads, vacancies and staff turnover, the information could turn into another stick to beat workers.”

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