Up to 80% of English councils failed to spend government grants allocated for social care training on their dedicated purpose last year, a study has found.
Learn to Care urged the Department of Health to conduct a review of workforce spending and consider safeguarding funding for social work training, after publishing a study of funding decisions in 56 authorities.
The organisation, which represents professionals in social care workforce development, found only one in five of the councils fully spent each of the two main social care workforce development grants on training last year.
The government allocated £148m through the national training strategy grant (NTSG) and the human resources development strategy grant (HRDSG) in 2007-8. Though neither grant is ringfenced, both have defined purposes.
Only 18% of children’s directorates and 18% of adult departments retained 100% of the NTSG, which is intended for training social workers, NVQs for care assistants, and other schemes. And 18% of children’s departments and 21% of adult directorates secured all of the HRDSG for workforce planning.
This is despite the majority of respondents to Learn to Care’s 2007 survey predicting they would retain 100% of both grants for training in 2007-8.
In 2008-9, the government provided £139m for adult care training and £18m for children’s social care training within the new area-based grant – a large funding pot made up of a number of previously separate funding streams.
Just over half of respondents from children’s and adults’ departments said they expected to retain all of this money for training this year, but Learn to Care warned this “may prove incorrect”.
On average authorities predicting they would be unable to spend the full sums estimated they would spend only 35% of the children’s funding and 73% of the adult care funding on training.
A DH spokesperson said Learn to Care’s sample was not representative of councils as a whole and said it allocated £290m for workforce development in 2008-9, not just the £139m for adult care in the area-based grant.
She added: “It is for LAs to determine the money allocated by the department for social care workforce development.”