Cambs council criticises Government on care funding support
- Credit: CAMBRIDGE LABOUR PARTY
The Government should be doing better to financially support those providing adult social care, Cambridgeshire County Councillors said.
A support grant from central government was welcomed by the county council's adults and health committee, however it was highlighted that the amount of funding provided would not go very far.
The county council has received £581,014 as part of the government’s £60million of additional funding it announced in December last year, in response to the additional pressures associated with the Omicron strain of Covid-19.
At the committee meeting, councillors agreed for the county’s allocation to be distributed to all the adult care providers in the county registered with the CQC.
Responding to a councillor question on whether this amount of money was “significant”, Will Patten, a service director at the county council, said that while it will be welcomed by the providers, as it will be distributed to all of the providers registered with the CQC in Cambridgeshire, it was not actually a lot of money.
Councillor Richard Howitt, chair of the committee, said the government needed to provide more long term support.
He said: “It’s enormously frustrating that we, together with others in local government, are pressing government to get this money and then we get such late decisions.
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"This money goes back if it is not spent at the end of March, this is hugely disruptive short-termism from government.
“It’s really valuable money but they’ve got to be more realistic about the ability and capacity of local government, not just us to be able to receive and act on decisions.
"They have got to give us a bit more long term money and not just give us money for the short term.
“We know the uncertainties of the pandemic, but to give us something that is only going to be there for 10 weeks is pathetic and they can do better.
“But what our independent providers I hope will see is that the minute we get money we try and get it to them, because their problems are now, their stresses and strains are now.
“[And] I hope those in government will also get the message, not just from us but others across the spectrum of local government, that they can and should be doing better.”
At the meeting councillors also approved ‘additional targeted funding’ to support social care providers, after the county council has seen some providers hand back care packages as a result of financial pressures being faced.
In a report to the committee, council officers highlighted some of the examples of increased financial pressures being faced, including increased staffing costs, which have increased 15.4 per cent in 2021, and 17 percent since before the pandemic.
Insurance costs have reportedly increased by 80 percent for a premium for this year as there are now only two insurance providers for the care home market.
Food costs have also increased by over 4.5 per cent in 2021, and cleaning and PPE costs have increased by nearly 300 percent compared to pre-Covid-19.
Officers suggested areas of investment, requiring an additional investment of £2.2m in 2021/22.
Mr Patten told councillors this could largely be covered through the county council’s previously reported underspend in its adult social care budget.
In 2022/23 there will need to be an additional £2m of investment.
Councillors also approved a retention payment scheme for adult social care workers to try and encourage social workers to stay in their roles.
A report to the committee explained that the county council is currency seeing high turnover and vacancy rates.
Charlotte Black, the county council executive director for people and communities, told councillors that it was her “strong view” that unless the proposed steps were taken, the county council would find itself struggling to meet its statutory requirements.
She also explained that the government’s adult social care reform will mean that more social workers will be needed and that the proposed scheme was considered to be the best solution at the moment.
It was recognised that similar schemes could be considered by other authorities and that recruitment of adult social workers will be a continuing challenge.
Cllr Howitt said it was “utterly right” that the social workers who ‘commit to the county council, its services and the people they care for’ should be “properly recompensed”.
He also highlighted that the county can be an “expensive place to live and work”.
The payment retention scheme will be introduced to teams where the impact of vacancies and turnover are creating the “greatest issues”.
Eligible social workers and senior social workers will receive 20 per cent of that starting salary, paid as three non-consolidated incremental payments over a period of three years.
This will be followed by a fixed-rate payment thereafter. Team managers will receive a fixed payment each year following one year’s service.