Southwark council has formally signed up to Unison’s ethical care charter, which urges local authorities to help put an end to low wage, by-the-minute home care.
Southwark said it had already put into place the majority of the elements in the charter, including introducing the London living wage for home care workers working for private providers and ensuring visits last for a minimum of 30 minutes.
In April 2013, the council agreed to investigate whether it was possible to commit to the remaining three main principles of the charter: scrapping zero hours contracts hours, paying for travel time between clients and occupational sickness schemes.
On Tuesday 19 November, members of Southwark’s cabinet received a report concluding that the council can adopt a new approach to commissioning services. The report recommended signing up to the charter and working towards its complete implementation.
“There is still work to do to bring in the final pieces of the charter,” said Catherine McDonald, cabinet member for adult social care, health and equalities in Southwark.
“But I am delighted to be signalling our commitment and to be leading the way to better home care.”
She added: “I believe that having a better paid, better skilled and well-motivated workforce in our community will help ensure high quality care, reducing unnecessary demand for hospital services and helping people stay in their own homes for longer, which is where they have told us they want to be.”
Southwark is one of the first local authorities to sign up to the charter. Heather Wakefield, Unison’s head of local government, said: “Southwark is leading by example in adopting the charter and tackling the problems with home care contracts head on.
“A lot of hard work will be needed to make this commitment a reality, but the way Southwark has involved workers, providers and people who need care in working together on the charter bodes well for the future.”
Unison’s branch secretary in Southwark, Sue Plain, said: “Our home care members have campaigned hard for this and will leave a legacy of better terms and conditions for those who follow them – and a better quality of home care for all the residents of Southwark. They should be very proud of the achievement and well done to the council for listening and taking action.”