The UK government has confirmed that the funding promised to develop the social care workforce in England has been halved. In 2021, the government pledged “at least” £500 million for reforms, to be spent on training places and technology over three years. However, the Department of Health has now revealed that the figure has been reduced to £250 million.
The government’s white paper on social care, published in December 2021, outlined measures such as the creation of a new Care Certificate qualification and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places. It also proposed investing at least £150 million in digitising social care records and making better use of technology such as smart speakers and sensors. This figure has now been reduced to £100 million, as £50 million has already been spent.
Social care minister Helen Whately said the package announced on Tuesday “focuses on recognising care with the status it deserves”. She added that the reforms will focus on the “better use of technology, the power of data and digital care records, and extra funding for councils – aiming to make a care system we can be proud of”.
However, some organisations in the sector have said that the measures fall short of what is needed. The King’s Fund health think tank said the measures were “a dim shadow of the widescale reform to adult social care that this government came into office promising” while Age UK described them as not being “remotely enough to transform social care”.
A report from Care England and the HfT care provider in March warned that adult social care was “on the precipice” when it came to costs. The low level of pay for care staff was considered the biggest barrier to recruitment and retention, the report said. The Department for Health and Social Care insists that all the promised money will stay within social care and that it has yet to allocate the full budget.
The UK government has promised to give social care “the status it deserves”, but some organisations in the sector feel that the measures outlined in its white paper do not go far enough. The amount of funding allocated to reforms has been halved, with £250 million now available over three years. This includes £100 million for digitising social care records and making better use of technology. The low level of pay for care staff is a major barrier to recruitment and retention, according to a report from Care England and the HfT care provider. The Department for Health and Social Care insists that all the promised money will stay within social care and that it has yet to allocate the full budget.