Social care: £162.5m workforce fund announced
The funds, available until the end of March 2022, will help local authorities working with providers to recruit staff
The social care sector will benefit from a £162.5 million fund to help recruit and keep staff, the Government has announced.
Local authorities will be able to apply for cash, based on their level of need, to boost numbers working in adult social care, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The funds, available until the end of March 2022, will help local authorities working with providers to recruit staff.
And it will help retain the existing workforce through overtime payments and staff banks of people ready to work.
Social care providers and other bodies have been calling for an urgent cash injection to help the sector through a winter that is anticipated to be more challenging than usual.
For weeks providers have warned that they are struggling to provide safe care, and are having to turn away or hand back care packages, due to staffing shortages as people flock to other sectors.
They say issues such as burnout from the last 18 months of the pandemic, low, uncompetitive pay, high levels of pressure and the requirement for staff to get vaccinated against coronavirus is pushing staff to leave.
A survey by Care England, published on Thursday, found that the primary concern for the vast majority of members this winter is workforce shortages.
Around 88% of around 80 member organisations surveyed said they are struggling to retain staff, with 69% saying the workforce crisis is affecting the quality of care.
More than half (around 55%) of those surveyed said their vacancy rate is higher than 10%, with 17% reporting a vacancy rate of 20%.
The money announced on Thursday is in addition to the £5.4 billion the Government has pledged to invest in social care between 2022-3 and 2024-5.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I want to thank care workers for their commitment and tireless efforts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – we owe them a debt of gratitude which I am determined to repay through ambitious, sustainable social care reform that prioritises their skills and wellbeing.
“This dedicated funding will help local authorities bolster staff numbers and care workers to continue delivering high-quality care for everyone who needs it.”
Minister for Care Gillian Keegan added: “This funding will help care providers recruit and retain staff, supporting both those already making a difference while bringing in new colleagues to help.
“Everyone deserves to be cared for with dignity and respect. This funding, as well as our wider reforms, will bring us closer to a world-leading social care system.”