The Kingsmill Review: Taking Care

Baroness Kingsmill’s review into the exploitation of care workers makes six recommendations, including more regulation and better pay: The Kingsmill Review: Taking Care 

Labour have responded to the report on the care work industry with a raft of new proposals, aimed at providing better care for patients and working conditions for carers.

The report, published by Baroness Denise Kingsmill, finds that elderly people across the country are given visits lasting just 15 minutes. Not only does this affect the standard of care, limiting how much time can be spent on help with cooking, bathing and taking medication, it also exploits carers. Many are not paid accordingly if they choose to stay longer than the allocated quarter of an hour, nor for the time spent travelling between care visits – meaning somewhere between 150,000 and 220,000 care workers are paid less than the National Minimum Wage. On top of this, around 307,000 care workers are on zero-hour contracts, leaving many without proper job security.

Ed Miliband announced that a Labour Government would work with local authorities to end time limited 15 minute visits; the introduction of a Licence to Practice for care managers to improve management standards and training for new workers; and an extension in the remit of the CQC to cover the exploitation of care workers that impacts on those they care for. Under this new remit, the CQC would have a duty to refer to HMRC cases where it suspects there has been a breach of minimum wage laws.

Kingsmill’s recommendations are:

  1. All care managers must be registered and have a licence to practise. This should be extended to care workers, by widening the remit of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to regulate this group of staff. The CQC should be given powers to prosecute any providers employing unlicensed managers or staff
  2. The CQC should be required to monitor non-payment of the national minimum wage and HMRC should take a more proactive approach to enforcing the law
  3. Exploitative zero hours contracts, such as those preventing staff from working for other employers, should be banned, and staff should be paid for “standby time” if the employer requires them to be available for work at short notice
  4. The CQC should be responsible for ensuring local authorities follow the principles of a care charter, putting an end to 15-minute time slots
  5. Skills for Care’s role in tackling poor standards and raising levels of training should be strengthened
  6. The remit of the CQC should be extended to protecting care workers from exploitation.

The report highlights the fact that Health Education England has an annual income of £5bn and £95,000 is spent on education and training in the NHS every minute, but next to nothing is available for workers in social care. An example of how little is spent on nurses in nursing homes and other community settings is illustrated by a local university that was allocated just £5,000 a year in government funding to spend on training care-home workers.

Although some courses cost as little as £570, it wouldn’t pay for anyone wishing to complete a longer course or our degree, which costs £7,790. There should be other sources of funding, but Skills for Care, which administers its own workforce development fund and is responsible for the adult social-care workforce, is a “poor relation” and doesn’t fund higher-level qualifications, prioritising instead apprenticeship qualifications.