Last reviewed 19 January 2021

Local authorities have been promised a new £120 million fund to boost staffing levels in the social care sector with an additional £149 million grant system to support increased testing in care homes.

Recognising that the impact of the new coronavirus variant is being felt across the country, with staff absence rates rising sharply both in care homes and among home care staff, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This funding will bolster staffing numbers in a controlled and safe way, while ensuring people continue to receive the highest quality of care.”

The £129 million funding can:

  • provide additional care staff where shortages arise

  • support administrative tasks so experienced and skilled staff can focus on providing care

  • help existing staff to take on additional hours if they wish with overtime payments or by covering childcare costs.

Many local authorities across the country already have staffing initiatives in place to increase capacity and address staffing issues, Mr Hancock noted.

These include care worker staff banks, where new recruits are paid during training, re-deployment models where DBS-checked staff are trained and moved into operational roles, and end-to-end training and recruitment services.

The new fund will ensure such initiatives can continue, and help other local authorities implement similar schemes.

The other grant will be used to support rapid testing of staff and to facilitate visits from family and friends where possible. It will help care home providers with the costs incurred, including setting up safe testing areas, providing staff training and contributing towards staff time spent administering and receiving tests.

Local authorities will be required to pass on 80% of the funding to care homes on a per beds basis, with 20% used at the local authorities discretion to support the care sector in delivering additional lateral flow device testing.

All the funding will be available later this month.