The government have announced a £500 million package of dedicated funding to attract and train more social care staff, including those working with people with a learning disability.
The aim of the funding from the Health and Social Care Levy is to improve recruitment, retention, progression, and staff wellbeing.
This will include funding for Care Certificates, alongside significant work to create a delivery standard recognised across the sector to improve transferability across settings, so care workers do not need to repeat the Care Certificate when moving roles.
Other initiatives include wellbeing and mental health support and to improve access to occupational health to support staff resilience and recovery following their role in the pandemic.
There will also be a new digital hub for the workforce to access support, information and advice, and a portable record of learning and development. This will include exploration of new national and local policies to ensure consistent implementation of the above, as well as higher standards of employment and care provided.
Boost to workforce recruitment
Minister of State for Care and Mental Health Gillian Keegan said: "I am incredibly proud of all the social care staff who have worked so hard, particularly during the pandemic.
"As we recover from Covid-19, we must look to the future and to reform – this £500 million package of support will boost workforce recruitment, allow staff to progress in their careers in the sector and very importantly, ensure staff wellbeing is better supported.
"The type of genuinely transformational change cannot be accomplished overnight. We know staff will need continued support, but we hope this package will level up opportunities for current and future social care staff."
In total, the Health and Social Care levy will generate £36 billion over the next three years, which the government say will be invested in the health and social care system to ensure it has the long-term resource it needs while working to reduce patient waiting times and speed up diagnoses, including to clear the Covid-19 backlog in the NHS.
More clarity needed on funding
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) welcomed the investment in social work training routes and education, but said that as with previous funding initiatives the detail will be important.
A spokesperson told Learning Disability Today that the adult social work workforce along with colleagues in social care have been working under extreme pressure during the pandemic with many areas reporting high vacancy levels and examples of staff working excessive hours to respond to the crisis coupled with the challenges of long-term underfunding in social care.
They added: "We are looking for clarity on funding that will be made available to support the existing workforce to address not only the issue with recruitment but also with retention and supporting the well-being of the over-stretched workforce.
"BASW England are keen to be involved in conversations about shaping and influencing social work training and education in terms of qualifying and post qualification to ensure that the focus is on support and development alongside the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce."