Tory ministers accused of ‘insult’ to social care as workforce reform funding halved

Rishi Sunak’s government has been condemned for halving promised funding for reform of the social care workforce, with one charity saying it is an “insult” to the sector.

Millions of pounds have been removed from previously announced money for the struggling sector which a recent report warned is “on the precipice” amid rising costs and difficulty recruiting staff.

The Tory government had pledged to invest “at least £500m over the next three years” to the social care workforce in its white paper on adult social care reform in December 2021.

But the Department of Health and Social Care has now said its plan to boost skills and training in the workforce would be backed by only £250m.

“This plan is an insult to a sector that was once treated as a priority for government,” said Jackie O’Sullivan of learning disability charity Mencap – who said the plan had “now been diluted beyond recognition.”

Pointing to a deficit of 165,000 care workers, she said the “needs to act fast on the real issues like workforce pay, timely access to support and the underfunding of the system, before it’s too late”.

The King’s Fund health think tank said the measures were “a dim shadow” of the widescale reform to adult social care the government had promised, while Age UK described them as not being “remotely enough to transform social care”.

The TUC said that “slashing much-needed funding is self-defeating”, while the GMB health union said it was a “disgraceful decision”.

The 2021 white paper also promised to invest “at least £150m” in digitisation across the sector. The department said that figure is now £100m, saying £50m had already been spent.

Tuesday’s announcement did not mention a previously announced £25m to support unpaid carers or £300m mentioned in the white paper to integrate housing into local health and care strategies.