£10m boost to adult social care funding to tackle NHS winter pressures

Government cash injection for areas afflicted by greatest NHS pressures welcome but long-term funding increases to boost home care capacity and care worker pay needed, says ADASS

Minister for care Helen Whately (Credit: Department of Health and Social Care)
Minister for care Helen Whately (Credit: Department of Health and Social Care)

The government has increased funding for adult social care to help tackle NHS pressures this winter by £10m.

Councils will be able to bid from a pot of £40m – up from £30m – for cash to help prevent hospital admissions and speed up discharges from wards. The funding will be allocated to areas deemed to have the greatest urgent and emergency care challenges this winter.

The Department of Health and Social Care suggested that councils use the funding to purchase more home care packages, to enable people to leave hospital more quickly, and specialist dementia support to prevent admissions, among other things.

“It will improve social care capacity, boost discharge rates and avoid unnecessary admissions, freeing up hospital beds and reducing waits for care,” said care minister Helen Whately.

The DHSC announced the funding, along with £200m for the NHS, following a winter planning summit this week between prime minister Rishi Sunak, health and social care secretary Steve Barclay and leaders from both sectors.

Adult social care funding: a complex picture

The £40m is part of a complex funding picture for adult social care in 2023-24, which includes:

  • Core funding for local authorities from council tax, business rates and the government’s settlement grant. Authorities were able to raise council tax by 3% this year without the need for a local referendum, up from 2% in 2022-23.
  • Up to £550m from increasing the adult social care precept – the part of council tax that must be spent on adults’ services – by a maximum of 2% (up from a 1% limit in 2022-23).
  • The £2.14bn improved better care fund (iBCF), the same as in 2022-23. This can be spent on meeting adult social care needs, supporting the provider market, speeding up hospital discharge and otherwise reducing NHS pressures.
  • Councils’ share of the £4.8bn in NHS funding, up by 5.7% on 2022-23, channelled through the better care fund (BCF), whose purposes are to help people live independently at home for longer and ensure they receive the right care in the right place.
  • £600m in funding designed to increase adult social care capacity in order to speed up hospital discharge, half of which is channelled through councils and half through NHS integrated care boards (ICBs), and all of which is pooled within the BCF.
  • £3.85bn from the social care grant, which is ring-fenced for adult and children’s social care. This is an increase of £1.345bn on 2022-23. Most of the grant is spent on adults’ services.
  • £400m through the new market sustainability and improvement fund (MSIF), which councils must use on cutting waiting lists for care or assessments, increasing fees for providers or bolstering workforce capacity in the local area.
  • £162m within the MSIF to help councils move towards paying providers a fair cost of care, a similar level to last year.
  • £365m in a separate market sustainability and improvement fund – workforce fund, which has the same grant conditions as the wider MSIF but is particularly designed to bolster the workforce.

Extra funding ‘welcome but not enough’

Council leaders welcomed the funding but said it did not go far enough.

“There is no doubt that this winter will be extremely challenging for those needing or working in social care with increased needs and an increasingly unhealthy population,” said Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Beverley Tarka. “Every bit of extra funding helps.”

“But to solve pressures in the long term we need to provide more care at home to prevent more people getting ill and needing hospital in the first place as well as decent pay for the care workforce and support for unpaid carers. That will take a long-term plan, with long term increases in funding to provide the care and support older and disabled people need and to support us all to live and work and care.”

Her comments were echoed by NHS Providers’ director of policy and strategy, Miriam Deakin, who said: “The £40m for local authorities to boost social care capacity, reduce admissions and to tackle delayed discharges will similarly be welcomed but the government must also take a long, hard look at the fundamental long-term challenges facing social care rather than trying to get by through short-term quick fixes.”

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8 Responses to £10m boost to adult social care funding to tackle NHS winter pressures

  1. Alex Koh September 16, 2023 at 9:19 am #

    These concerns are valid. While additional funding for social care is welcome, it’s clear that we need a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to address the long-term challenges in the sector. Prioritizing care at home, fair wages for the workforce, and support for unpaid carers are essential components of a robust, lasting solution. It’s time for a well-planned, adequately funded strategy.

  2. Me September 17, 2023 at 11:18 am #

    Well it’s not just care at home that needs more funding. Care homes need more funding too. Care homes are just as important, and are needed for vulnerable people who can’t live in their own home, people with dementia, violent people, people who don’t like going out into the community, etc. Then there’s people living in mental hospitals, and there’s also people living in general hospitals. Social care isn’t limited to only care at home. Some vulnerable people end up being put back in residential care homes, as they find it lonely living in their own space. Despite having communal rooms in the same building. It’s about what kind of place is better suited to the vulnerable people being looked after. Having their own place is quite over-rated. It won’t suit everyone. Some vulnerable people are quite content living in residential care homes.

  3. Justme September 17, 2023 at 11:22 am #

    Same old story. ?

  4. Anonymous September 17, 2023 at 8:23 pm #

    A long term solution is needed now. This one off targeted funding just wastes everyone’s time and is the most inefficient use of the money.

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  6. Daniel Wilding September 18, 2023 at 9:30 pm #

    In my view, paying social workers throughout our profession in line with inflation and the cost of living would also be a helpful solution.

  7. Sultana September 22, 2023 at 1:15 am #

    Social workers under paid and overworked….this need to be addressed, the workforce is burnt out wherever you turn. How do you expect good social work when the resources aren’t there, money isn’t there and the challenges keep increasing. We have more social issues due to cost of living crisis. More money needs to go in all areas of health and social care. There is so many negative points than positives. The workforce is dying.

  8. Chris Sterry September 23, 2023 at 12:42 pm #

    Very rare I agree with Council Leaders, but in this I do for £10million is so welcome, but so much more is needed, in fact I would say at least £billion if not more.

    It is not just that creating access to social care to offset the bed crisis in NHS hospitals, but the whole of social care, for children and adults, including care homes, home care, respite, Supported living, hospices and more.

    Pay is a major problem, especially with regards to care workers for the current around £10.42 is way insufficient and a starting salary of around £14/15 would be more realistic and not a one-off, but substantial increments for all years to come. But as is said it is not just care workers, but in many respects social workers also and supporting staff.

    In all areas, the pay is way insufficient and this is causing a major lack of people wishing to apply for the vacancies and more so, many leaving to gain better prospects elsewhere, either within the UK or not. Social care’s loss is every other areas and country’s gain. It is not the government that suffers for while it is the staff, it is also persons in need of social care and their families.

    If it was not for family caers the situation would be far much worse, as in 2021 family carers saved the UK more than £193 billion, while at the same time ignoring their own health needs. This over time means not only will the persons in need of social care need more social and NHS care but also their family members currently caring for them.

    But do the government care, apparently not, either by ignorance and even worse by design, the government will not suffer and neither will the Ministers for with their wealth they would be able to afford private care. But where do the private care obtain their staff from, well from the social care sector, so even more way for staff losses in general social care.

    I don’t just blame all the Tory governments since 2010 although they have inflicted great damage during that time, but before 2010 all was not great for social care has never been sufficiently funded.

    I will go even further in that a great mistake was made in 1948 when the NHS was created, for social care should have been included, but then, while the NHS has been receiving funding again not insufficient quantities and here too as we have and are seeing with the recent and current strikes that all in not well in the NHS.

    But pay, while an important aspect, there are others and this includes the working environments and terms and conditions of employment., mainly in social care but also to some extent in the NHS. In many instances Bank Holidays are not being recognised in social care with regards to care workers and for them it is treated as just another working day. Christmas and New year may be different, but for many it will not be. As in the NHS, but not many other employments social care is required 365/6 days a year, other than holidays and some sickness everyday is similar to the others.

    Care is required for many 24/7 and it doesn’t stop for holidays, Bank or otherwise.

    Yes, we are obtaining some persons from out of the UK, but not in sufficient numbers and there are many restrictions and associated costs.

    Staff coming in are required to be sponsored which is far from cheap and the required visas are time limited when the insufficiencies of staff are not.

    This government hasn’t got a clue and I really doubt that any incoming government will have.

    So the future outlook for social care is far from good in many instances.