The government has announced a £600m package to support recruitment and retention within social care ahead of the winter, but care leaders have warned that this alone will not fix the sector’s workforce troubles.
The cash injection includes a £570m workforce fund over two years, distributed to local authorities, and a further £30m funding for local authorities in the most challenged health systems.
Ministers suggested the funding could be used to ‘enable better pay’ for care workers.
On top of this, the government also announced a further £10m per year to enhance research into social care and inform future social care policy.
Minister for care, Helen Whately said that care workers ‘deserve a brighter spotlight to recognise and support what they do’ and that the government was ‘backing our brilliant care workforce’ with the extra funding.
‘Our workforce reforms will help more people pursue rewarding careers in social care with nationally recognised qualifications,’ she added.
‘Our investment in social care means more funding to go to the front line. This matters, because support for our care workforce is the key to more care and better care.’
In addition to the announcement, the DHSC has also published a letter to leaders across the social care sector outlining steps needed to ensure that adult care systems are resilient this winter.
This letter called on authorities to ‘work closely with providers to use the £570 million funding to grow workforce capacity, for example, by investing in improved pay for people who work in care’.
However, Care England chief executive, Professor Martin Green said that this funding will do little to address the ongoing workforce crisis in social care.
While Professor Green noted the cash injection was a ‘step in the right direction’ for the social care sector he warns that it must be acknowledged ‘that it will not fix social care’.
The £570m promised over two years is equivalent to a ‘mere 10p per hour pay rise’ for the existing social care workforce, according to Professor Green – a ‘far cry from the addition £4 per hour needed’, he added.
‘Once again, the government require a great deal from a relatively small pot of funding. This fund cannot be relied upon to remedy social care pressures alone,’ said. Professor Green.
‘The requirements of the fund are vast. None of this is possible with 10p an hour per member of the care workforce.’
Meanwhile, National Care Forum policy director Liz Jones welcomed the announcement of a ringfenced fund for the social care workforce but also reiterated calls for an accompanying social care workforce plan.
‘We hope that our local authority colleagues will use this injection of funding to pay providers properly for the care and support they provide,’ said Ms Jones.
‘And, of course, a long-term social care workforce plan, to sit alongside the NHS long term workforce plan, is still the key to ensuring a sustainable social care workforce for the years to come.’