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Extra funding welcome – but more is needed

The Independent Care Group (ICG) has welcomed the Government announcement of an extra £40 million to support social care this winter.

But its chair Mike Padgham has also warned how vital it was that the money reached the front line of social care delivery. And he said the occasional drip feed of small amounts of funding into social care was no substitute for the sector-wide reform that was needed.

The cash boost comes as part of a £200 million package – with £160 million going to the NHS. The social care element is to bolster capacity and improve discharge from hospital.

Mr Padgham said: “Any funding that comes the way of social care has to be welcome and I hope this money will help in delivering care to those who need it and in the overall task of looking after people and keeping them out of hospital.

“Of course, it will only work if that money reaches the front line of care delivery and supports care providers who are doing the job. That means using the £40m to help recruit staff and better reward those who are doing the job. Spread across the 152 local authorities that have responsibility for social care the impact could actually be very small.

“Without sounding ungrateful, the real shame here is that the Government has to keep drip-feeding these modest sums of money into social care because the sector is in such a dire state.

“Years and years of under-funding have left social care desperate for little handouts like this whilst what is really needed is root and branch reform, proper pay for the workforce on a par with the NHS and a proper plan to get the sector on a more secure and sustainable footing.

“We can’t know what sort of winter we are going to have but with a new strain of covid causing concern, next to the usual challenges of flu, it is going to be hard.

“The social care sector was left battered and bruised after Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis and staff shortages have combined to increase the number of care and nursing homes and homecare providers closing.

“Going into the winter we are in a perilous position and, welcome as this extra funding is, it isn’t going to solve very many problems.”

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