Learning Disability Today
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The Department of Health and Social Care announced today (Tuesday 4 April) that funding promised to the social care workforce in England is to be halved.
The Department said that a new care workforce pathway and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places will be backed by £250 million of funding. However, a white paper on adult social care published in 2021 stated that the sector’s workforce would receive at least £500m over the next three years.
Charities and leaders of adult social care services are now questioning the government’s commitment to addressing the staffing crisis in social care, with Sarah McClinton, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services saying the government’s vision for reform is “in tatters”.
“£600m is being held back from the £1.7bn of reform programmes the Government announced last year. But adult social care is in crisis, with staff vacancies at an all-time high and half a million people waiting for care and support. Now’s not the time to be holding funding back, it needs to reach people who need care and support as soon as possible.
“If the Government won’t commit fully to this first step towards the long-term fully funded plan we need, the crisis will only continue. That means many more people won’t get the quality care and support they need, forcing more family and friends to step in where they can, more people deteriorating and being admitted to hospital and further damage to the NHS and the economy,” she said.
The latest figures reveal that there are currently around 165,000 vacancies in the social care sector, with around 21% of jobs unfilled.
Rachael Dodgson, Chief Executive at Dimensions, says “dismayed” does not begin to describe the charity’s reaction to the funding cut.
“A lack of industrial action should not be taken as an opportunity to abandon more promises. Support workers are skilled professionals with a significant range of responsibilities, yet they can walk into better paid roles in the NHS, retail, and hospitality, tomorrow. And in the face of a cost-of-living crisis, many are doing just that.
“If you have a loved one who relies on care and support to live their life, you know the impact this will have,” she said.
Key members of the social care sector who support over 10,0000 working aged adults with learning disabilities or autism have now written to Helen Whately MP asking her to reconsider the funding allocation. The letter reads:
“Adult social care is in a financial crisis that is set to worsen and with staff vacancies at the heart of the issue, how could further cuts be the right choice at this time?
“The government has said it ‘focuses on recognising care with the status it deserves’ but it is hard to see how this is reflected in today’s announcement. After more than a decade of cuts we have a social care sector that is on a cliff edge, for many providers this could be the final push. The announcement today couldn’t be further from the ambitions within People at the Heart of Care.
“A larger, better-paid social care workforce is not just a cost; it is an investment. Pay parity across the whole NHS and social care economy and an integrated health and social care workforce plan will not solve the workforce crisis alone, but it would help elevate the recruitment and retention pressures we face.”
The CEOs of United Response, Certitude, Choice Support, Dimensions and Macintyre are now urging the government to “rethink this short-sightedness and renew the commitments made to the social care workforce so they are treated with the value and status that their dedication deserves.”
Just weeks ago, the sector pulse check report from Hft and Care England revealed that 42% of providers were forced to close parts of their organisation or hand back care contracts in 2022, with 82% in deficit or experiencing a decrease in their surplus.
United Response’s chief executive Tim Cooper said the government must now do more to prevent adult social care services from shutting their doors for good.
He said: “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.”