Pay care workers the ‘missing millions’

UNISON social care workers, with unite and GMB, demonstrated outside the Scottish Parliament on Thursday calling for answers to the ‘missing millions’.

The demonstration was part of the STUC’s Missing Millions campaign which is calling on the Scottish government to answer why £38 million – previously allocated to fair work in social care – has been cut from the budget.

The money should have been put towards making improvements in sick pay and maternity/paternity pay. There was no consultation with trade unions, local authorities or employers prior to the budget being withdrawn

UNISON also says that over the last two years, private care companies made £216 million in profits and charitable care organisations are hoarding funds. For instance, The Richmond Fellowship Scotland is a charity sitting on £59 million in reserves when almost all their funding comes from the public purse. The Scottish government have also repurposed £70 million which was earmarked for National Care Service.

The union say that these are substantial funds some of which could have been used to deliver sick pay, paternity and maternity rights and better pay and conditions for social care workers.​

UNISON social care workers lobbied their MSPs

Jennifer McCarey, UNISON Scotland social care lead, said: “It is three years since the Scottish government made Fair Work promises in the sector but the Scottish government has failed to deliver any improvements. Public funds which were supposed to improve pay and conditions for care workers have been poured into a leaky bucket rather than directly into care workers pay packets.

“Money allocated to the sector goes to private profit, organisations’ reserves or is redistributed by government to other budgets. Scotland’s social care service is in crisis, care workers desperately need the Scottish government to change course.”

Audrey McCabe, UNISON Chair of UNISON Scotland social care committee, said: “Care workers from all over Scotland are starting to stand together to say the sector is in crisis and they have had enough. There are thousands of care workers across Scotland who only have basic statutory sick pay.

“We are worse off than when we were working in the pandemic because many get disciplined for being off work while sick, we still work in precarious contracts and only receive days’ notice of shifts they must work. We’ve not made work fairer for care workers, three years later its worse.”