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Government Criticised For Inaction On England’s Social Care Workforce

Inaction by the Government in its approach to the social care workforce in England has been roundly criticised in a new report from the National Audit Office (note 1).

United Kingdom Homecare Association (note 2) welcomes the NAO report for highlighting that a lack of action by the Department of Health and Social Care has not achieved value for money. The Association notes that NAO adds weighty evidence to the repeated calls for Government to establish how much funding the social care sector needs and to produce a robust and properly funded national workforce strategy that will support the growth in careworkernumbers required to meet increasing demand.

Front-line social care workers and their managers find the work they do to support older and disabled people highly rewarding, yet the status of social care work is not properly recognised in society, nor is the contribution that the social care sector makes to the economy, both through employment opportunities and by supporting family and other informal carers in work.

Colin Angel, Policy Director at the United Kingdom Homecare Association, said:

“The National Audit Office rightly calls time on the Department of Health and Social Care’s consistently ‘hands-off’ approach to the social care market and its workforce.

“The absence of a published strategy for the social care workforce highlighted by NAO should be an embarrassment to Government, but a strategy is only useful if it leads to decisive action.”

NAO highlights that only 18% of local authorities (which purchase the majority of homecare services) are paying fees to homecare providers that are above the benchmark costs of care produced by UKHCA, to which Government recommends authorities have regard(notes 6 and 7).

UKHCA maintains that the ability to recruit, train and retain workers is severely affected by under-resourcing of care purchased by councils.

Colin Angel continued:

“Government has given increasing responsibilities to councils to shape their local care markets, while councils argue that they have insufficient funds to do so. UKHCA continues to urge Government to ensure that social care is properly funded and that there is independent oversight of councils’ commissioning practices and their effects on the social care workforce.  Government must finally tackle the growing crisis in social care head-on.”

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