Adult Social Care Funding

As the CEO of a Recruitment Services Consultancy, I am deeply concerned about the impact of the recent funding decisions for adult social care in England. The shortfall in funding for this critical sector means the vulnerable and the elderly will go without the care and support they need, and the workforce will continue to struggle with staff shortages. This will either force care providers to increase the need to use expensive agency staff or keep adding fuel to the international recruitment fire.

The government’s commitment to supporting adults with disabilities and the elderly is in tatters, as the promised £500m to help plug staff shortages has been reduced by half. The decision to hold back £600m, including £250m from the £500m promised initially last year to support the workforce through measures such as extra training places, has been criticized by adult social care directors.

*According to Skills for Care, there were 1.5 million people working in adult social care in England in 2022. However, more than 400,000 people left their jobs, and there were 165,000 vacancies, a 52% increase on the previous year and the highest on record. These alarming figures indicate the urgent need for more investment in the sector.

The recent £2bn of grants for the next two years is just a fraction of what is normally spent on social care, and contributions from the Department of Health and Social Care represent just one funding stream councils rely on. Over the past 10 years, councils have had to reduce the amount they spend on social care once inflation and the rising demand from the ageing population is taken into account.

Everyone knows that pay is a significant issue for the social care workforce. Care workers were paid an average hourly rate of £9.66 in the independent sector and £11.03 in the public sector. Considering the demanding and essential nature of the work, these rates are low and contribute to staff shortages and high vacancy rates.

The Care and Support Alliance report these shocking statistics:

  • 1-5 residential care workers live in poverty.
  • 14,000 people a week have their care requests turned down.
  • 1 in 10 older people are having to stop or reduce their social care.

Caroline Abrahams, co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance, got it right, saying, “With quite a chunk of the money originally promised for care now no longer available is just the latest in a long series of disappointments so far as recent government performance on social care is concerned.”

Is a delay a good thing? Maybe, if….

Is this delayed spending as big a disaster as it is being made out to be? Naturally, if the government doesn’t follow through with the money, then it is a disaster on an epic scale. However, looking at it from a different perspective, and without wanting to be massively controversial, you could argue that a delay may not be wrong.

Before everyone starts sending me hate mail, let me explain myself.

Imagine having £461,000,000 to invest in improving recruitment and retention across the care sector. Well, that’s what we had with the workforce recruitment and retention fund.

What good could you do with this amount of money? What could you improve? Also, if you gave this money to someone, wouldn’t you want, no, demand to know what it would be spent on and what results and outcomes you would guarantee?

You couldn’t blame anyone for assuming that accountability must come into play when you’re talking about spending ½ a billion GBP in less than 12-months, but sadly not.

The money dished out to councils via the workforce recruitment and retention fund was a good idea but poorly thought out and, in most cases, terribly executed. This has led to hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, your money, being squandered on pointless projects without any tangible results.

For example, I am aware of one County Council that received over £8m in the space of 5-months to invest in improving recruitment and retention across their county. However, there are no figures to support how many new people they’ve helped to pursue a career in care or how they’ve helped improve retention in any way, shape, or form with all this money.

I have seen money thrown at training initiatives when there are clearly enough training companies to support the ASC sector’s educational needs. Also, the Adult Education Budget was £1.6bn, and last year it was under spent by £63m, so why are people wasting valuable money on more training services? If we don’t have the workforce, then who exactly is going to attend these training courses?

From the outside looking in, it looks like a tick-box exercise that keeps people busy for another year until another round of money needs wasting.

Bulls Eye

Do you remember the 80’s TV programme Bulls Eye? If so, then you’ll recall that quite often, there was the bit at the end of the shown when the contestant missed their darts, and Jim Bowen would commiserate the pair by saying,” Bad luck chaps, but let’s have a look at what you could have won.”

It was very comical and evident that the losing pair from Barnsley didn’t have much need for a speedboat because they didn’t have a car and lived more than 1hr 30mins from the nearest beach. Bizarrely, this is the same as the workforce recruitment and retention fund.

90% of prize money has been wasted on ‘things’ that are totally pointless, unfit for purpose, and deliver no real or meaningful results.

The clue was in the title, and what was, and still is, needed (i.e. Frontline Care Workers) couldn’t be more obvious, or so you would think!

“Let’s have a look at what the ASC sector could have won!”

The average cost to source, attract, and hire a new care worker is between £850-£1000 (not including the training or uniform). Therefore, by default, the council mentioned earlier should have been able to get at least 8000 new care workers with their £8m budget.

Multiply this number by the total funds available (£468m); the ASC sector should have 468,000 new care workers. Even if you doubled the cost to £2000 per hire, you would still have recruited 230,000 new care workers, which is more than enough to solve the current staffing shortages.

No matter what figure you put on it, you could have made, and more importantly, we should have put a massive dent in the care worker staffing crisis. Instead, the problem is the worst it’s ever been, and we’re ½ a billion pounds worse off for it. Try and work that one out if you can!

We did a pilot project with the London Borough of Havering and got 98 people into care jobs in just 12-weeks. We did another project in partnership with Kent County Council and Kent & Medway NHS trust, sourced over 225 Personal Assistants (PA’s) in 13 weeks, and proved it could be done with the right approach and know-how.

Our latest partnership with LCAS via Skills for Care, will also be a success, and it’s encouraging that some councils dare to try something different, but sadly, many need to learn what care worker recruitment is all about. Go to most council websites and apply for a job, and you’ll soon see what I’m talking about, but remember that local authorities are not recruitment experts.

The recent funding decisions for adult social care are disappointing. They do fall way, way short of what is needed. Still, regardless of the money, the Government, Local Authorities, and the ASC sector as a whole need to stop throwing away these much-needed funds on projects that clearly don’t work, continually fail to deliver recruitment success and hold people accountable for their results.

For more information about how to overcome the care worker skills crisis contact Scott directly via LinkedIn, and read these three care recruitment myths that might be holding you back HERE.

*Source – Skills for Care

Read the BBC’s original article at HERE

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