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Government Set to Cut £500m from Social Care Workforce and Reform Budgets

The Government is set to cut its planned spending on for adult social care workforce, reform and integration by at least £550m, according to reports.

According to reports in the Health Service Journal, the government is prepared to scale down a pledge it made in the December 2021 social care white paper to dedicate £500m to “investment in knowledge, skills, health and wellbeing, and recruitment policies that will improve social care as a long-term career choice”. This amount could be cut to £250m.

A further £300m plan “to integrate housing into local health and care strategies with a focus on increasing the range of new supported housing options available” could also be cut, it was reported.

The money was promised for improving social care workforce standards, increasing supported housing, and integrating care “into local health and care strategies”, according to senior sources.

The sector is experiencing huge staffing issues, there are currently165,000 care worker jobs vacant, and low pay driving staff to seek better wages in retail and hospitality, care providers and councils have been demanding investment in recruitment and retention.

Leaders across the sector criticised the cut. King’s Fund policy director Sally Warren said: “If these reductions are true, this would be a shameful retreat from the government. Far from fixing social care as they claim, the government would be walking away from its commitments to support and improve the social care sector. First, the delay to the cap and the extended means test, now – if confirmed – a massive reduction in the scale of ambition to reform and improve the sector – on the workforce, housing, support for carers.”

Nuffield Trust deputy director of policy Natasha Curry said: “If confirmed, this would be very disappointing. The ‘reform’ money promised in the white paper was a small pot to start with… Any cut to the budget for staff would be particularly worrying as the workforce is under such strain already. The fund stopped short of delivering improvements to pay, but did at least promise to offer support and training.”

NHS Confederation policy director Layla McCay said government “should clarify its position” and added: “Leaders have been calling for extra investment in social care, particularly around pay, to drive recruitment and retention in a system that has at least 165,000 vacancies. We know that this would be one of the best and most effective actions that could be taken to reduce pressure on the NHS and fill vacant positions.”

Care England CEO Martin Green said: “The government desperately needs to follow through on its funding announcements. We are in a workforce crisis and we need a significant amount of money to deliver the workforce strategy. I am very upset they seem to have cut the amounts they have offered in the past.”

Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board chair David Fothergill (Con) said: “This would be a hugely disappointing reversal of commitments made in the government’s 2021 adult social care white paper, which hailed new funding for workforce, housing and innovation as central to delivering a shared vision for the future, and will be of real concern people who draw on care and support.

“There are huge pressures on social care capacity and workforce and a real need to invest in new models of care including expanding specialist housing. Failing to address these issues will have real consequences for people who access social care, as well people’s confidence in the government’s commitment to meaningful reform in this vital public service.”

 

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