- 11 April 2023
- 6 min read
What Now After Government Confirms £250m Cut From Social Care Funding?Subscribe To Advice
A proposed £500m investment in the social care workforce in England is to be halved, reports confirm.
The Health Service Journal revealed on the March 17th 2023 that the government was set to partially renege on a promise it had made in December 2021 to fund a £500m investment “in knowledge, skills, health and wellbeing, and recruitment policies [that] will improve social care as a long-term career choice”.
Care providers argued that cutting the £250m could prove damaging to the care sector “for years to come”.
Jackie O’Sullivan, from the learning disability charity Mencap branded the plan to cut funding as “an insult to a sector that was once treated as a priority for government.”
“Just over a year ago, the Social Care White Paper laid out the urgent reform needed to enable people to access the care and support they rely on. It has now been diluted beyond recognition” she warned.
Why Investment Is So Important
With over 165,000 care worker vacancies currently in the sector, staff leaving to earn higher wages in other sectors, and the Care Quality Commission regularly identifying inadequate staffing levels as a cause of neglect and substandard care, care providers and councils have been pleading for investment in recruitment and retention.
Do you think that the halving of this £500m investment is indicative of a government that feels social care is an area where the problems have become ‘unsolvable’?
“This is right at the time the sector continues to struggle with recruitment and retention…If this money has been taken out, it is short-sighted. There could be other ways to utilise this fund if they spoke to the sector” explained Nadra Ahmed, the executive chair of the National Care Association before the cut had been confirmed.
Likewise, Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, said: “We need that £500m to kickstart a much more strategic approach to workforce development. If it has been cut, it will set back social care for many years to come.
“People who receive services suffer because if we can’t make social care an attractive place to develop careers, we will see a reduction in services and the chronic situation many people are in where they only get a service when in crisis will get even worse. It will also put extra pressure on the NHS” he lamented.
Do you agree that the partial removal of this funding will only exacerbate problems within the social care sector, and thus make any future solutions even more costly and difficult to implement?
The increases in wages for care workers when the “national living wage” goes up to £10.42 an hour in April has not been matched by an increase in the council grants that pay for care beds, creating a fresh squeeze on the finances of care providers, according to the government-funded charity Skills for Care.
“A thriving, happy and properly remunerated workforce is fundamental to the success of social care. But to achieve it, there is no time to waste – we need urgent action, instead of the constant reversals of promises that seem to characterise the current Government,” Kirsty Matthews, CEO of national learning disability charity Hft.
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Social Care Workers Are Desperately Needed
Skills for Care also predicted that by 2035, the UK may require close to half a million extra social care workers to keep pace with the burgeoning demand for care services.
At the same time, if those care workers currently aged 55 and over decide to retire, this would result in an estimated 430,000 workers leaving the sector over the next decade.
“Demand for social care is at a record high, levels of public dissatisfaction have slumped to a new low and staff vacancies have never been higher” cautioned Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund, a health thinktank.
Should the Treasury, when increasing the national living wage, raise care grants by the same percentage to avoid worsening the financial pressures on those responsible for providing the care?
The Impact Of Government Backtracking
Kirsty Matthews, CEO of national learning disability charity Hft, argues that the endless changes and empty promises from the Government are driving some care providers out of the market:
“…the average vacancy rate was 21% last year and that over half (58%) of the providers surveyed had to turn down admissions to services due to staff shortages. Nearly one fifth had to close services altogether due to workforce issues” she explained.
What Do You Think?
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Have Your Say
Do you think the problems in social care are purely down to issues of funding or are there other, more fundamental problems that would need to be addressed, in addition to the funding, for social care provision to be put onto a sustainable footing for the future?
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