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Care organisations have expressed disappointment over the apparent halving of funds for the social care workforce over the next three years.
Organisations for older people have expressed concerns over reports that the Government has halved the amount of money available for social care staff with worries that it will do little to stem the recruitment problems in the sector.
A white paper on adult social care reform published in December 2021 contained a pledge to invest at least £500m over the next three years in the social care workforce. But in an announcement released today the Department for Health and Social Care stated that it was “launching a call for evidence in partnership with Skills for Care on a new care workforce pathway and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places, including a new Care Certificate qualification – aiming to increase opportunities for career progression and development, backed by £250 million”.
Age UK called the Government’s plans for social care ‘modest and foundational’ and insufficient to provide the transformation the social care sector needs. It said the announcement was ‘the latest in a long series of disappointments’ related to social care and that reports of further cuts in social care by local authorities could cancel out any additional money.
It is particularly concerned that the Plan will not fund an immediate pay rise for social care stuff. Caroline Abrahams, co-chair of the Care & Support Alliance & Charity Director of Age UK, said: “This is a big missed opportunity in our view, since we will never really make social care fit for purpose until we’ve addressed the issue of poverty pay, thereby making the job more competitive vis a vis roles in retail, hospitality and the NHS.
“You just can’t provide really good care, tailored to people’s individual needs and 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.”
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, also expressed her disappointment, saying funding of the care workforce “lies at the heart of social care and to invest the promised £500m and tackle it properly would make such a difference to the sector”. She stated: “Paid-for care is a vital source of support for families, allowing unpaid carers to work or get a break. This is a massive missed opportunity to improve the lives of so many people.”
Nevertheless, she expressed relief that the £25 million allocated to improve services supporting unpaid carers is still in the budget. She said: “This will be incredibly important for family members to get a break from their caring role and focus on their own mental and physical health.” However, she called for it to be rolled out without delay and called for “far greater commitment to and investment in our care system for there to be any hope of it being fit for purpose in the future”.
The Government says its package of reforms will make a difference and gives care “the status it deserves, while also focusing on the better use of technology, the power of data and digital care records, and extra funding for councils”.