The Government has announced a £600 million package of funding to boost the social care workforce and help the sector prepare for winter.
The funding is intended to help with recruitment and retention in the social care sector, which is currently battling a significant staffing crisis with recent figures showing that there are circa 165,000 vacancies unfilled.
The Government previously announced £250 million of funding for workforce reforms set out in the Next Steps to Put People at the Heart of Care plan which aims to enable better recognition of social care as a profession. This includes building flexible, integrated career pathways between health and social care, which was set out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.
It is hoped that the funding will build on the progress already made under the Next Steps plan and help build a stronger overall foundation for the health and social care workforce making it a more attractive career proposition to boost capacity in the care system ensuring it is better able to meet demand. Ultimately it is hoped that a more robust social care system will prevent admissions to hospitals and speed up the discharge process which was had been a major problem in recent times with people staying in hospital longer than needed with resulting pressure on NHS frontline services.
The funding will be distributed through the existing Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund. £570 million will be distributed to local authorities over the next two years, with an additional £30 million funding for local authorities who are under the most pressure. It is intended that the funding will be flexible allowing local authorities to tailor it to benefit local needs. This could include enabling better pay for care workers by increasing the fees given to care providers.