On the 4th of April 2023, the government has announced that funding promised for the Social Care Workforce is to be halved. The decision has been met with widespread criticism, with many experts arguing that such a move would cause immeasurable damage to the social care system and those who depend on it.
Social Care funding has long been a contentious issue in the United Kingdom, with successive governments failing to address the funding gap and the growing demand for care services.
But what are the implications of this decision and why have experts called it is an “insult” to the social care sector? Read on to find out.
What were the government’s initial plans?
In a white paper on adult social care reform published in December 2021, ministers pledged to invest “at least £500m over the next three years to begin to transform the way we support the social care workforce”.
However, the Department of Health and Social Care said on Tuesday that plans for a “new care workforce pathway” as well as “hundreds of thousands of training places” will be backed by only £250m in funding.
Sally Warren, director of policy at health thinktank The King’s Fund, said the plans were a “dim shadow of the widescale reform to adult social care that this government came into office promising”.
Implications to the workforce?
The plan was widely criticized for several reasons, including concerns that it would disproportionately impact younger and lower-paid workers, that it would not provide sufficient funding for social care, and that it did not address the underlying issues within the social care system.
The social care sector in England is already under immense strain due to chronic underfunding and staff shortages. The proposed funding cuts would exacerbate these problems and could have devastating consequences for older and vulnerable people.
Some of the potential implications of halving social care workforce funding include:
- Reduced Access to Care Services: With fewer staff available, there will be a reduction in the number of care services available to those who need them. This could lead to longer waiting times, reduced quality of care, and increased stress and strain on family members who may have to take on more caring responsibilities.
- Increased Workload for Care Workers: The social care workforce is already overworked and underpaid. A reduction in funding would mean that fewer staff would be available to provide care, placing a greater burden on those who remain. This could lead to burnout, stress, and staff shortages, further exacerbating the problems in the sector.
- Negative Impact on Local Economies: The social care sector is a significant employer in many areas of the country. A reduction in funding would lead to job losses and reduced economic activity, which could have knock-on effects on other industries and services.
A report published in March by trade organisation Care England and learning disability charity HFT described the adult social care sector as “on the precipice” because of financial pressures on providers.
The report also said that “low levels of pay for care staff is considered to be the biggest barrier to recruitment and retention”. Skills For Care, which works with the government to provide data on adult social care, estimates that in 2021/22 the staff turnover rate in the sector was 29%.
This cut in promised funding is looking to be a massive blow to the care sector.
“Insult to Care”
Halving social care workforce funding in England has been branded a betrayal by charities, unions and other political parties which also accused the Government of broken promises.
Joyce Pinfield, from the National Care Homes Association, has run a number of homes and lives in Worcestershire. She said holding back half the money was “another insult to social care”.
“We keep being promised funding and it keeps being taken away. We have over 165,000 vacancies and well over 1.5 million unmet care needs as we speak, simply because we can’t get the care staff and that’s a difficult situation because the pay is so low, they’re not valued.
“So the announcement today that the training funding is going to be cut just shows how little value the government put on social care. Any way of being able to pay [staff] the correct wage for the job and also give career progression… just isn’t being considered whatsoever.
“It will already increase a very difficult situation, because it’s already well-recognised that social care is in crisis.”
Skills for Care have also responded to the government’s plans saying, “We know that people working in care feel burnt out so, without the originally planned investment in wellbeing, it’s important that we still find a way to focus on supporting their wellbeing and mental health.”
At CareTutor, we share Skills for Care’s sentiment and agree that the community do need to find other ways to support care workers. There are a number of charities and organisations that aid care workers, either through aiding with their costs or helping their families.
Here are a few that offer that support:
Articles on this issue can be read on:
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