UNISON National Delegate Conference 2023: Conference demands National Care Service Bill be scrapped

#undc23 Conference overwhelmingly opposed the Scottish Government’s National Care Service (Scotland) Bill. Backing Scottish delegations call for the bill to be scrapped.

Speaker after Scottish speaker addressed conference calling for the bill to be withdrawn Colleagues from other parts of the UK added their voices to the call. All demanded a national care service based on the principle of fully funded, universal social care; delivered by councils, with fair work, improved status and decent pay for all care workers.  One that kicks profit out of care.

Moving Scotland’s motion, regional delegate, Tony Slaven told delegates, “The crisis in care is stark and obvious – and it won’t be solved by leaving care in the hands of the tax dodging private operators who have done such damage for so long,” adding that this is what the National Care Service (Scotland) bill will do.


He pointed out that the Bill is costed on the basis that 75,000 local government staff will be outsourced.


The National; Care Service (Scotland) Bill will set up quangos called Care Boards – whose members will be handpicked by government ministers. These will be given the legal responsibility for a whole range of services currently the responsibility of either Local Government or the NHS.


“These Care Boards won’t provide the services directly – they will contract from the public, private and voluntary sector.


“The Bill the Scottish Government are trying to put through includes a clause that allows these Care Boards to prevent Councils or Health Boards from even bidding for those contracts,” warned Tony.


He demanded that a National Care Service be not for profit saying, “There is a mountain of evidence – and UNISON has been part of providing it – that having commercial interests at the heart of care is damaging” calling for conference to be resolute in opposing the bill.


Speaking on behalf of the NEC, Kate Ramsden pledged NEC support for the campaign to scrap the Bill. She asked us to be very clear about the difference between a National Care Service – which we all support – and the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill “which is disastrous for local government and health.”

“The NCS (Scotland) Bill offers nothing at all to our social care members but if passed will devastate local government by taking staff, functions and services out of councils and giving them to unelected quangos

“Simply put it is the biggest threat to local government in Scotland that we’ve faced…ever.

“It has serious implications for the NHS too.

“In campaigning for a National Care Service in the UK we must ensure that underpinning legislation is consistent with our vision rather than a cynical ploy to meet an alternative agenda,” urged Kate, calling on conference to send a clear message to the Scottish Government that the bill must go.

Dundee’s Roz Ronan, a social work paraprofessional, spoke of her fears that social work services will be taken out of councils.

Roz warned, “They talk about co-design. But so far they have paid no attention to what we have had told them so we can have no confidence they will take on board what we have to say.

“We just don’t have the detail we need to know what will happen to our jobs and the services we provide. I know that my colleagues in social work share these concerns. They are already on their knees and this uncertainty is causing stress and damaging morale.”

Mags McCarthy, Health spoke about the concerns of our Health members in Scotland, telling delegates that the bill has serious implications for the NHS. Section 28 gives the Scottish Minister the right to move a service currently provided by Health to the Care Boards, and Section 32 gives the new function holder the right to transfer NHS property.

She too pointed to the complete lack of detail provided by the Scottish Government with no firm reassurances that NHS services won’t be transferred.

“This leads me to think that this is the thin end of the wedge and we could see our NHS dismantled.

“Let’s work for a care service that is fit for purpose,” she demanded.

Conference voted overwhelmingly for Motion 28 – UNISON’s Vision for a national Care Service.

Conference 2023 page