£60m extra help for social care is too little too late

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The Government top-up announced yesterday will go to local councils to support the sector in the new year. The Omicron Support Fund is on top of £388million already allotted to prevent infections and provide testing.

But the Independent Care Group of care home owners says it is staggered such funding and support for boosting staffing levels did not come sooner.

ICG chair Mike Padgham said: “Our only dismay is the Government did not act at the end of the summer when we warned of an impending staff crisis.

“Not now that we are in it. This money will take time to filter through to the front line. In the meantime care providers are struggling to fill staff shifts today, tomorrow and next week.”

The additional investment comes with the confirmation, on Christmas Eve, that employers can resume recruiting overseas staff.

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Mr Padgham added: “Both of these moves are very welcome but long, long overdue. We warned in the summer that social care was heading into a very real staffing crisis and appealed to the Government for help.

“Only now is it responding with what many will agree is too little and too late.”

Social care looks after 400,000 people in care and nursing homes – three times the number in NHS hospital beds.

The sector looks after a further 640,000 people in their own homes. And care providers are struggling as the impact of the Omicron variant is being felt. Mr Padgham added: “With every passing day, providers are losing staff to the pandemic and finding it impossible to fill shifts.”

Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said: “Extra funding will ensure we continue to support adult social care.

“A huge thank-you goes out to care workers for all they are doing to care for people and keep themselves and others safe.

“I urge anyone who has yet to get a booster to come forward – vaccines are our best defence.”

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