Independent Care Group (ICG) Chair Mike Padgham has welcomed the extra £40m from Government to support social care this winter, but has warned how vital it was that the money reached the front line of delivery, adding that the occasional drip feed of small amounts of funding into social care was no substitute for the sector-wide reform that was needed.
Padgham said: “Any funding that comes the way of social care has to be welcome and I hope this money will help in delivering care to those who need it and in the overall task of looking after people and keeping them out of hospital.
“Of course, it will only work if that money reaches the front line of care delivery and supports care providers who are doing the job. That means using the £40m to help recruit staff and better reward those who are doing the job. Spread across the local authorities eligible to apply for a share the impact could be modest.
“Without sounding ungrateful, the real shame here is that the Government has to keep drip-feeding these modest sums of money into social care because the sector is in such a dire state. Years and years of under-funding have left social care desperate for little handouts like this whilst what is really needed is root and branch reform, proper pay for the workforce on a par with the NHS and a proper plan to get the sector on a more secure and sustainable footing.
“We can’t know what sort of winter we are going to have but with a new strain of covid causing concern, next to the usual challenges of flu, it is going to be hard. The social care sector was left battered and bruised after Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis and staff shortages have combined to increase the number of care and nursing homes and homecare providers closing. Going into the winter we are in a perilous position and, welcome as this extra funding is, it isn’t going to solve very many problems.”
The ICG has published its Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document, setting out what it believes are the vital tasks needed to support social care and get it ready for the future. The document has been sent to all the main political parties. The five pillars are:
- Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it
- Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and social care
- Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS
- Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
- Fix ‘fair price for care’ tariffs for things like care beds and homecare visits.