Councils given £1.6bn to deal with impact of coronavirus on social care and vulnerable people

Ministers also announce £1.3bn to free up hospital beds, including by funding social care services to enable discharge

Photo: Michail Petrov/Fotolia

Councils will get £1.6bn to manage the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on their services, including social care, while the sector will also benefit from a further £1.3bn designed to support hospital discharge.

The funding is part of the £5bn package of measures announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Budget last week .

The £1.6bn is designed to help councils manage pressures across all of their services, but the government highlighted its use to support adult social care and homelessness provision.

Earlier this week, the Local Government Association (LGA), Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and provider leaders said that councils could use this money to support services to maintain cashflow and retain staff, in order to sustain continuity of care.

The £1.3bn is designed to free up 15,000 hospital beds by next Friday (27 March), including by funding adult social care services to enable discharge and release NHS capacity to treat people afflicted by coronavirus.

‘Already-stretched system’

The funding package was welcomed by council and NHS leaders.

“[Councils’] absolute priority is continuity of care and protecting the most vulnerable from this virus,” said Ian Hudspeth, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board. “This funding boost will help councils do everything they can to ensure people vulnerable to the virus are able to access vital supplies.”

He added: “A widespread coronavirus epidemic across the country will have a huge impact on an already-stretched adult social care system. To maximise the impact of this funding, councils will need to be able to target it towards the pressures in their particular local area, including support to the care provider market.”

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said:  “It is good to see that the government has listened to concerns that there needs to be a clear and quick path out of hospitals into social care or back home for those patients who are medically fit, to ensure that capacity is cleared where appropriate.”

Demands on protective equipment

Meanwhile, the government has responded to concerns about a lack of available personal protective equipment (PPE) for social care services to tackle mounting demand to support care workers support people with possible coronavirus.

In a letter to providers, Department of Health and Social Care director of adult social care Ros Roughton said at least 300 free fluid repellent facemarks would be made available to every care home and home care service from the pandemic flu stock between yesterday (18 March) and 24 March.

Roughton denied there had been any priority given to the NHS over social care in the distribution of PPE.

“We know that supplies of personal protective equipment to the care sector is fundamental for the
good care of individuals with suspected symptoms of Covid-19,” she said. “We are clear that no wholesaler
has been asked to prioritise NHS provision over the care sector nor should they be doing so.”

She said the department was working with wholesalers to ensure a long-term supply of all types of PPE, including aprons, gloves and hand sanitiser, as well as facemarks, and said that providers should order future equipment from their usual suppliers.

It has also set up a dedicated phone line for providers experiencing difficulties accessing PPE:

The National Supply Disruption line
Tel: 0800 915 9964

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