Funding promised to develop the social care workforce in England has been halved, the government has confirmed.
In 2021 the government promised “at least” £500 million for reforms, to be spent on training places and technology over three years, however, that figure is now £250 million, according to the Department of Health.
Measures set out in the government’s white paper on social care, published in December 2021, include the creation of a new Care Certificate qualification and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places, and also sets out proposals to speed up digitising social care records and make better use of technology such as smart speakers and sensors.
The white paper also promised to invest at least £150 million in digitisation across the sector, but the Department of Health and Social Care said the figure is now £100 million as £50 million has already been spent.
ANGRY care providers say a Government cut in funding for the sector’s workforce is yet another cruel betrayal of a sector looking after the country’s most vulnerable.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says the news comes at a time when the sector is in crisis and needs an increase rather than cuts in funding. It is also calling for long-overdue plans for social care reform to be published straight away and not “within weeks”.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“This is yet another cruel and unfair cut to the funding we need to provide help and support to older and vulnerable people.
“The sector is going through an unprecedented staffing crisis with 165,000 vacancies crippling our delivery of care. We need every penny of funding and cannot afford to have £250m removed at a stroke like this.
“The Government insists that all promised funding will stay within the sector but we cannot believe a word they tell us anymore.
“The sector is suffering demise by a thousand cuts and the people who will suffer most are the 1.6m people who cannot get care and the hundreds of thousands more who are finding they need help and support, every day.”
“It cannot be acceptable that government after government keeps on delaying reform to the social care sector,” Mr Padgham added. “We are now being told that plans will be announced “within weeks” – how many times have we been told that before? And that will just be the plan – we could wait months or even years for reform to begin.
“Meanwhile the number of people waiting for care, now at 1.6m, continues to grow and care and nursing homes and homecare providers are closing.
“On a daily basis people are having to sell their home to pay for the care they need and more and more people living with dementia are having to pay for care whilst others with equally serious illnesses get their treatment and care on the NHS.
Caroline Abrahams, co-chair of the Care & Support Alliance & Charity Director of Age UK said:
“With a fair wind, these announcements might just about take us to social care base camp over the next couple of years, but that’s hard to swallow when millions of older and disabled people, and their unpaid carers, needed something far bigger, bolder & more genuinely strategic to give them hope for the future. The truth is the measures in this plan are generally quite modest and foundational, so although mostly welcome in themselves, they aren’t remotely enough to transform social care, and that’s what we needed to see today.”
“You just can’t provide really good care, tailored to people’s individual needs & aspirations, if you haven’t got the staff to do it. Government knows this as well as we do, so it’s all the more disappointing that they aren’t taking action on care pay. If there was one element that should have been in the Plan this was it.”
United Responses chief excutive Tim Cooper said:
“This comes just weeks after the sector pulse check report from Hft and Care England laid bare the financial and workforce pressures which have seen 42% of providers forced to close parts of their organisation or hand back care contracts.”
“The sector could not have been clearer that the workforce crisis leaves some of the most vulnerable in society at risk of not being able to access the support they need. It is unthinkable that these concerns have been swept aside and is a huge retreat from what was already minimal advancement in a long-term reform for social care.”
“The government urgently needs to increase their investment now, to utilise and recognise the skills and innovation within the social care workforce, before the social care system become unsustainable.”