New report: Private sector is the barrier to improved social care services in Wales

left to right: carer Sian Stockham and UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary Dominic MacAskill
left to right: carer Sian Stockham and UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary Dominic MacAskill

The crisis in social care can never be resolved if services continue to be provided by the private sector, according to a major report into care in Wales to be launched today (Wednesday).

The report from the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), commissioned by UNISON Cymru Wales, concludes that people receiving care, as well as care workers, are being let down by the current system of commissioning, outsourcing and the need to turn a profit, and years of underfunding.

The A National Care Service for Wales report will be launched today (Wednesday), in Cardiff Bay in the company of Welsh government ministers, council leaders and care workers.

APSE describe how the requirement to create a profit or, for the third sector, to compete with for-profit providers, means corners are cut, so care workers are allocated too many service users and are not paid travel time and this impacts on service user care. In-work poverty is commonplace, staff turnover is high and vacancies, huge.

It says the £1.2 billion care market in Wales is dominated by private companies and no-one knows how much money is disappearing from the sector in profit or is wasted in the commissioning process.

The ASPE report says that whilst there are many small private care providers, a handful of multinationals occupy a powerful position. Ultimately owned by private equity firms, they target around 12 per cent profit return for investors, with a further 20 per cent or more of earnings going to fund interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation, rent and management costs.

APSE says this means front line care providers are left struggling to make ends meet, so they minimise costs by squeezing care worker wages and undermining the quality of care provision.

UNISON argues, every pound of public money spent on social care should go towards the provision of that care and it has called on Welsh government to examine if the Welsh taxpayer is getting value for money.

Dominic MacAskill, UNISON regional secretary said,

“We can’t afford to lose this opportunity to get a National Care Service right at its inception and transform care forever. That means putting an end to a sizable chunk of the taxpayer money that funds social care going to private investors in tax havens.

“The private sector always has one eye on delivering a dividend for investors, not what is best for our Welsh communities and that’s why care services should be directly and democratically provided by local authorities and be properly funded.”

Denise Thomas is a support worker in south Wales and said,

“We provide a vital service to our clients and their families and yet carers like me are receiving wages so low that they are leaving many of us to struggle under in-work poverty.

“It is essential that we have a National Care Service for Wales that puts the welfare of carers and their clients at its heart and not the profits of private companies and their shareholders.”

Notes to editors


Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales, 07816 53 83 97