The government has today (July 28) unveiled a £600 million package to help with recruitment and retention in social care. The fund will support the social care workforce and boost capacity in social care, in turn supporting the NHS ahead of winter and through into next year.
This week the Care Minister is also writing to local authorities about preparations for winter, and NHS England has written to NHS organisations encouraging contingency planning to prepare for winter demands on the health service. The government is encouraging local health and care systems to prepare jointly for the winter months earlier this year, increasing resilience and preparedness for seasonal viruses such as flu or Covid.
The £600 million includes:
• £570 million workforce funding over two years, distributed to local authorities
• £30 million funding for local authorities in the most challenged health systems
The money is spread over two years and is going to local authorities to help to improve recruitment and retention, boost workforce capacity and ensure a sustainable social care workforce fit for the future.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:
“Hundreds of thousands of older people, disabled people and their carers depend day in, day out on our social care workforce. Care workers deserve a brighter spotlight to recognise and support what they do. That’s why we’re reforming social care careers and backing our brilliant care workforce with millions in extra funding.”
“Our workforce reforms will help more people pursue rewarding careers in social care with nationally recognised qualifications. Our investment in social care means more funding to go to the front line. This matters, because support for our care workforce is the key to more care and better care. A stronger social care system, hand in hand with our NHS, will help people get the care they need, when and where they need it.”
Liz Jones, Policy Director at NCF said:
“We welcome the announcement of this ringfenced funding to local authorities intended to support the social care workforce. Hopefully, the clear grant conditions will ensure that it gets passed on to providers to enable them to reward their staff better, well in advance of winter pressures.
“It’s good to see that ministers have responded to the calls from the NCF and the Nuffield Trust for dedicated funds to support our workforce and to the recommendations in the long read published earlier this week which we collaborated with the Nuffield Trust to produce. One of our main asks in that long read is that funding to support winter pressures is not allocated in an emergency, short term and chaotic way and is instead provided on a timely basis to local authorities with controls and measures in place to ensure it is used in the right way.
“We hope that our local authority colleagues will use this injection of funding to pay providers properly for the care and support they provide and ensure that we are able to better reward our social care workforce properly.”
Melanie Weatherley MBE, Chair of Care Association Alliance said:
“We are delighted to welcome the announcement of additional funding to support the adult social care workforce. It is particularly pleasing that this support covers two years, enabling the sector to develop effective longer-term initiatives.”
Cllr Martin Tett, County Councils Network Spokesperson for Adult Social Care said:
“The County Councils Network (CCN) very much welcomes this timely announcement by the government. The network called for this remaining funding to be provided directly to councils as soon as possible to help tackle additional inflationary costs and demand pressures which are impacting social care services this year and next.”
“With funding split over two years this will help councils mitigate some of the financial and workforce pressures over the next 18 months. It is also positive that the funding will be distributed through the existing Market Sustainability & Improvement Fund without further administrative burdens.”
Alongside NHSE’s letter to the NHS, DHSC has issued letters to local adult social care systems and providers to share the government’s priorities for adult social care this winter, and to highlight the key actions local systems and care providers should take to protect individuals, their carers and the sector as a whole. This is to ensure a ‘whole system’ approach is taken to plan for the colder months and put adult social care on as firm a footing as possible ahead of winter this year.
Of the £600 million from the Next Steps to Put People at the Heart of Care plan, £570 million will be given to local authorities as ‘flexible’ funding to allow them to tailor it to benefit local needs. This could be by increasing the fees given to care providers, which will enable better pay for care workers, driving tangible improvements to social care for those who draw on it, or reduce pressures on the health system by increasing the capacity of social care and helping to bolster the sector ahead of winter.
In addition, as part of the government’s initiative to improve care for everyone across the country, the National Institute for Health and Care Research has launched a new £10 million per year funding programme focused on social care research. The Research Programme for Social Care will collect information on the people at the heart of care, providing government and the sector with clear paths on how they can improve, expand and strengthen social care for people in need of care, carers, the social care workforce, and the public.
The new programme aligns with the department’s new innovation and improvement unit, which is working with sector partners to establish clear priorities for innovation and research across adult social care. When fully established, the unit will look at how research can inform all aspects of policymaking and delivery of care across the sector, to ensure we learn from best practice and promote new approaches to care that can improve outcomes for the people at the heart of it.