So this week saw the unveiling of the Autumn budget – austerity is over we have been told. The budget of course didn’t particularly reflect this – but would we expect it to with the Brexit debacle still looming large? Probably not. Clearly, Mr Hammond is keen to ensure he has enough in the purse for “preparations for leaving the EU” and then some, I am guessing, depending on the state of play come March 2019.
The dust has been settling over the past few days, during this time I have heard angry people on the radio talking about how much has been set aside for filling the potholes compared to what has been given to Education, as well as the media reporting on the hidden facets of the budget plan, and the Institute for Fiscal studies branding the whole thing as “bit of a gamble” in terms of Mr Hammond’s forecast of being able to spend more going forward. It seems austerity is not actually over then, is it? Maybe it’s more like wishful thinking…
So how did social care fare? Well, £650m is being pumped in to Social Care – always welcome news, but why does the figure always fall short? It is always a disappointment. Okay, £650m was encouraging to hear but in reality, only £240m of it will go to Adult Social Care, the rest will be divvied up across all of social care, which will include Children’s Services. Yet again we are being presented with a ‘sticking plaster’.
It is well reported that in real terms there is still a big funding gap and with the announcement of an increase in the National Living Wage of 4.9%, from £7.83 to £8.21 from April next year, I wonder if Local Authority rates will be able to keep up with that? There’s no doubt there will be a greater squeeze on differentials – not great when providers are doing their best to hold on to valuable staff.
Talking of money (and now for something completely different), we have money to give away and we want you to take it. As a national lead partner, to disburse the Workforce Development Fund, from Skills for Care (funded by the Department of Health and Social Care), we have a pot of money that can be claimed by Adult Social Care providers across the whole of England to help fund staff qualifications. As you would expect there are some criteria to meet, for example the organisation’s NMDS needs to be up to date, the qualification itself needs to be completed and be on the ‘accepted qualifications list’. We know that the completion of the NMDS seems to be the biggest barrier, although it’s certainly not insurmountable – it is worth the investment, trust me. We have plenty in the pot to offer, if you don’t use it, it will be clawed back. In a time of tight budgets and rumours of funding being cut to sleep in rates by Local Authorities, it makes sense to claim this money while you can.
If you would like any further information on Workforce Development Funding please get in touch with Denise Adams on 01246 541671 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARC England Director