Adult social care reform “in tatters” after £600m held back from original plans
Directors of social services for adults say the latest announcement ‘ducks the hard decisions’ as the government rows back on its £1.7bn commitment to improvement programmes.
The government announced that it would be building upon its 2021 white paper to reform adult social care.
It said people who receive care, staff and providers will benefit from a refreshed plan to “bolster the adult social care workforce, speed up discharge from hospital and accelerate the use of technology in the sector over the next 2 years.”
However, organisations across the adult social care have expressed disappointment in a reduction in the funding proposed in December 2021 intended to solve workforce issues plaguing the sector. In the latest announcement, £600m has been held back from the £1.7bn of reform programmes the government announced last year.
“This plan leaves the Government’s vision for reform in tatters,” Sarah McClinton, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said.
“It ducks the hard decisions and kicks the can down the road again until after the next election.
“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.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said that there was an underlying tension that needs to be resolved: “If we are going to ask more of our care staff through training and development, they need to be remunerated appropriately, and currently Local Authority fees do not permit this.
“It is bitterly disappointing that these reforms are now due to be delivered with a significantly reduced funding pot. Independent sector providers want to adapt and innovate but workforce shortages have a profound impact on the quality and continuity of care and the sustainability of care services.”
Despite the two-year delay to the charging reforms, announced in the Autumn Statement, the wider reform programme is still going ahead.
The announcement also included a £1.4 billion Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund, which the government says local authorities can use flexibly, including to increase the rates paid to social care providers or reduce waiting times; as well as funding for a host of measures to improve data and insight.
Alongside the plans, the government is launching a call for evidence in partnership with Skills for Care on a new care workforce pathway and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places, including a new Care Certificate qualification aiming to increase opportunities for career progression and development.
The funding available for this, however, has been halved from its original promise of £500m to £250m.
“This new plan from the Government takes us backwards,” Sarah McClinton said. “That will make it harder to turn around the social care staffing crisis, where vacancies are at a record high, pay and conditions poor and morale very low.”
“Between now and the next election, reform will be restricted to using data more effectively to improve services and the programme of inspections the CQC begins in April to monitor the quality of social services. While these steps are important, they will not bring the transformation and long-term fully funded plan that adult social care desperately needs.”
£38,223 to £40,221
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