The government is reviewing the roles and funding of the workforce development bodies supporting the social care sector in England.
The review is focusing on bodies such as Skills for Care, the Social Care Institute for Excellence, and the National Skills Academy for Social Care, which receive £18m from the Department of Health each year. Changes are set to be announced within a statement on the government’s strategic vision for social care expected in November.
A spokesperson for the DH said: “The Department will be considering the roles and funding of workforce development bodies in the context of the development of its strategic vision for social care.”
The announcement came as it was revealed that a report commissioned by the Labour government, but never published, described the landscape of national workforce bodies in England as expensive, incoherent, and confusing to service users and other professions. Community Care obtained the report through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The review also found the architecture of organisations:
• Risked duplicating services across bodies.
• Lacked overall leadership and responsibility, slowing the process of change.
• Carried high risk of failing to deliver on workforce change.
The review of Scie, GSCC and Skills for Care was completed in 2009 but was shelved by ministers as it failed to offer clear solutions to the problems it raised.
Since then, the coalition government has cut the budget of the Children’s Workforce Development Council by £15m and announced the abolition of the General Social Care Council. The regulation of social workers is being transferred to the Health Professions Council over the next two years.
But the structures of the other social care workforce bodies remain largely untouched, leading experts to predict further reform is on the cards.
Nick Johnson, chief executive of the Social Care Association, said it was important that services were not duplicated across organisations.
“The functions still need to be carried out, but we don’t want them to be carried out twice,” he said.
Des Kelly, executive director of the National Care Forum, suggested merging Skills for Care with Skills for Health, the skills council for the UK’s healthcare workforce.
“We have exhortations from government for the sectors to work together – the creation of the Care Quality Commission [formed through a merger of the health and social care inspectorates] for example – so it would make more sense for both skills councils to join together,” he said.
Sharon Allen, chief executive of Skills for Care, admitted that the social care sector was “a complex world”, adding: “We, along with all our partners, are working hard to clarify the different and complementary roles of organisations within the sector.
“Skills for Care has a central role to play in making sure that we create products that employers can use on the frontline and make sure the voice of 40,600 social care establishments is heard at a strategic level.”
Profiles of the social care workforce bodies involved
Skills for Care
Government funding for 2010-11: £11m
Remit: to work with employers in the adult social care sector to improve training and workforce standards in England. Key services: workforce data for employers; national induction standards for social care workers; support programme for newly qualified social workers in adult services.
Social Care Institute for Excellence
Government funding for 2010-11: £3.8m
Remit: to identify and spread best practice across social care services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Key services: issuing guidance videos via the Scie TV channel online, providing written guidance to professionals, developing service innovation.
National Skills Academy for Social Care
Government funding for 2010-11: £3m
Remit: to develop leadership and promote excellence in workforce training in the sector in England.
Key services: provides its own courses on leadership and commissioning; is developing a kite-mark scheme endorsing training courses in the wider market.
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