Care providers are calling on the government to extend essential social care funding as pressures continue to grow in the sector.
The Care Provider Alliance (CPA), the collective body of the ten adult social care trade associations providers, said emergency funding from the government has been a lifeline for the sector.
This has consisted of the Adult social care Infection Control Fund first introduced in May 2020 and extended in the autumn – providing over £546m of essential funding to the sector. The Adult Social Care Rapid Testing Fund of £149m and the Workforce Capacity Fund provided an additional £120m to support local authorities and social care providers to maintain safe staffing levels in accordance with the requirements set out in the government’s Winter Plan.
All three funds have been critical in facilitating and supporting social care providers to meet government policy and guidance, in the control and management of infections including regular testing of staff and residents, the care workforce and capacity issues, and in the management of safe visits to care homes.
It has taken months to get these systems in place to ensure service continuity during what has been an unprecedented onslaught of the Covid-19 virus.
Reports earlier this week from the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty warns of another surge in coronavirus cases in the UK is inevitable and could hit in late summer, despite the success of the country’s ongoing vaccine rollout.
He stressed the need to remain vigilant. Yet the Chancellor in his budget statement last week did not announce any specific measures for social care, despite the imminent end to the emergency funding on March 31.
Kathy Roberts, chair of the CPA, said: ‘Evidence available to the Care Provider Alliance indicates that less than a third of local authorities have declared their fee rates beyond April 1.
‘Those that have, are offering 0-2% uplifts which is far short of the increase to the national living wage (NLW), and the sums needed to adequately support social care providers.
‘We echo the warning from Prof. Whitty that it is essential to remain vigilant and consistent in the management of reducing the risk of transmission and call on the government to immediately extend the emergency funding available to the sector as a matter of urgency.
‘The clock is ticking and time is running out. It is vital that care providers have a clear understanding of what measures will be in place to support them to operate after the deadline of 31st March of the emergency funding arrangements.’
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, has repeated calls for clarity around extending government Covid-19 relief funds.
‘Unfortunately, Covid-19 doesn’t end on 31 March, but many of the relief funds for the adult social care sector, the frontline, do.
‘Without an extension to these relief funds, the sector will be extremely hard pushed to deliver rigorous testing or infection control measures that are so vital in the fight against this virus.
‘Providers need to plan and whilst we really hope that extension funds will be put in place it is necessary to understand the way the sector works, in order that it can plan the best delivery of care possible which takes time, resources, certainty and budgeting.’
The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.
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