Practically, there is parity of position between health and social care: Social care employs more people than health, is intrinsically community based and supports a large number of the population. However, there is a significant lack of parity of esteem between the two. The government’s recent early response to the COVID-19 and the March 2020 budget was exemplary of this lack of parity. This includes the pay and rewards of staff, professionalisation, funding, training and political discourse.
Social care provides vital support. We are providing councils with additional funding and supporting the workforce in responding to COVID-19 and will bring forward a plan for social care this year.
We know that social care will be at the frontline of our response to COVID-19 with social care providers looking after many of the most vulnerable in society.
The Government is committed to ensuring that the NHS and social care system have the resources they need.
COVID-19 presents one of the most significant challenges our society has faced. The disease disproportionality affects those who are most vulnerable, and adult social care services are critical to the nation’s response.
We look to local authorities to continue to work with the health sector to ensure people are cared for in the most appropriate setting.
On 19 March, the Government announced that £1.3bn would be made available to the NHS to cover care costs for those being discharged from hospital under new enhanced discharge arrangements.
A further £1.6bn has been provided to councils to support the local response to COVID-19, of which we think the majority will need to be spent supporting social care services. This funding is being kept under review. The COVID-19 funding is in addition to the £1.5billion that councils have access to for adults and children’s social care in 2020-21, announced in the last Spending Review.
This includes an additional £1bn of grant funding for adults and children’s social care, and a proposed 2% precept that will enable councils to access a further £500 million for adult social care.
This £1.5 billion is on top of maintaining £2.5bn of existing social care grants and will support local authorities to meet rising demand and continue to stabilise the social care system.
Future funding for social care will be set out at the next spending review.
Local authorities are responsible for commissioning social care services as they are best placed to understand and plan for the care needs of their populations, and to develop and build local market capacity. That is why under the Care Act 2014, local authorities are required to shape their local markets, and ensure that people have a range of high-quality, sustainable and person-centred care and support options available to them, and that they can access the services that best meet their needs.
In terms of the social care workforce, the Department is working closely with its delivery partner Skills for Care (SfC), to deliver structured support as the workforce adapts to the demands Covid-19 will pose to providers of our vital adult social care services. By mobilising SfC at the earliest opportunity we hope this will help assure the sector that DHSC is committed not only to supporting them respond to Covid-19, to recognise the contribution made by employees across this sector and also to continuing its ongoing commitments to helping train, develop and recruit a strong workforce for the future development of the sector.
We are working with SfC to see how their strategic work programme can support local authorities and employers' response to covid-19 through enhanced training and resource, we have already made good progress on identifying the requirements for the sector and e-learning modules have been developed by their Endorsed Training Providers and are now available.
We are supporting the Local Authority workforce through enabling temporary registration of social workers who have left the profession within 2 years – sent out a letter from Social Work England to 8200 retired social workers.
We recognise that during this time those working in the care sector will be feeling more anxious and under pressure. They will also feel a sense of duty to continue to provide a high-quality service for the people they care for. It is critical that the health and wellbeing of our caring sector is protected and we are working to ensure this happens.
We know that people who work in social care are providing a brilliant service, under difficult circumstances, and that being able to identify themselves as key workers, as well as receiving public support and recognition are really important. We know that care workers, as much as NHS staff, should benefit from priority access to supermarket shopping hours, and where they are not already, we are encouraging this to happen.
Putting social care on a sustainable footing, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society.
As the Prime Minister said, this government will deliver on its promises: we will bring forward a plan for social care this year.
There are complex questions to address, which is why we have invited all MPs and Peers to voice their views, solutions and concerns about reforming the way that people pay for their care. We are currently considering how to best to take forward these cross-party talks in light of Government guidance on COVID-19.
Department of Health and Social Care