Staffordshire UNISON welcomes Kingsmill Report on working conditions in the homecare sector

The Kingsmill Report on working conditions in the UK care sector is "A comprehensive programme of recommendations that would begin to redress the exploitation of the homecare workforce," said UNISON's Head of Local Government, Heather Wakefield. 

The report, released 15 May recommends a new care charter based on the Ethical Care Charter pioneered by UNISON which would be binding on all local authorities including Staffordshire County Council and would ensure that the care the Council commission is not delivered on the backs of exploited workers and is policed by the Care Quality Commission. 

The Charter described in the report would if adopted commit local authorities who commission homecare such as Staffordshire County Council to ending 15-minute visits, ensuring providers pay care workers for their travel time and end the use of exploitative zero hour contracts. It would also ensure councils and service providers are transparent in their price setting. 

The report, authored by Baroness Denise Kingsmill, sought the views of several of the union's members who are employed as homecare workers.

Heather Wakefield added, "Many of the issues tackled by the Kingsmill report were not even being discussed a few years ago. We’ve worked hard over the past 18 months to get councils to adopt the UNISON Charter voluntarily, and if councils like Islington, Southwark, Wirral, Reading, Renfrewshire and Lancashire can make this commitment, we believe that other councils should too. 

"We also welcome the focus on strengthening the enforcement of the National Minimum Wage, and the recognition of the damage done to care quality by widespread use of zero hours contracts. Until these Victorian working practices are stamped out of care altogether it will be impossible to raise the status and standing of care.

"People who rely on homecare deserve dignity and respect, and the only way to deliver high quality care is to ensure that workers receive adequate training and good quality conditions." 

Steve Watson, representing UNISON’s Private Sector members added, “Having recently joined the UNISON team at Staffordshire Branch the problems with working conditions in the care sector were very apparent. Our members working in this sector face the difficult decision of whether to provide the proper level of care or stick to the 15-minute visits they have been assigned to, many providing this care, in their own time, in order to give the people they are caring for some dignity. It is great to know we have been listened to and that these recommendations have been produced.”