Councils praised for diverting more cash to social care training

The social care sector in England spent an estimated 88% of its training grants on their intended purpose last year – a higher-than-expected £138m from £157m in total.

The finding came from a study by Learn to Care, which tracked expenditure of the £143m adult social care workforce and £18m children’s social care workforce components of the 2008-9 area based grants, which are distributed via local authorities but not ring-fenced.

Findings beat expectations

It found that among members of Learn to Care, which represents workforce development managers in social care, 85% in children’s services and 65% in adults secured all of their 2008-9 grants. By contrast, a similar survey conducted in 2008 found only half of members expected to retain all of the 2008-9 funding.

The latest survey of 51 workforce development departments in adult services and 27 in children’s services found that additional core funding from local authorities to support workforce development in social care was rising. The estimated amount in 2009-10 is £661,000 per council or £99m – nearly a quarter more than the 2008-9 total of £80m.

Support for voluntary sector growing

Support for workforce development in the voluntary and independent sectors for 2009-10 amounts to £432,000 (£368,000 for adult services and £64,000 for children’s services) per authority, which has been increasing steadily since 2004.

This amounts to £65m across England, or 40% of the £161m in workforce grants available in 2009-10.

Risks of short-term funding

The report concluded that “many councils appear to have heeded the warnings associated with not using the social care workforce grants for their intended purpose”.

However, it raised concerns about the reliance on short-term funding streams in addition to the area based grants, and noted the number of councils expecting to secure all of the grants “is reducing at a likely rate of 10% per year”.

Predictions for 2009-10

Only 57% of members in adult services and 78% from children’s services expected to secure all of the workforce development grants for 2009-10.

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