Cumbria County Council has committed £7m to a new emergency social care sustainability fund to support the struggling social care sector through this winter.
The announcement comes as social care providers around the county report increasing difficulty recruiting and retaining staff in the face of increasing wages in other employment sectors, the impact of the Government’s ‘no jab, no job’ rule and the ongoing pressure caused by the pandemic.
Best estimates suggest that right now there are over 700 social care job vacancies in Cumbria, at the same time as demand for care is increasing. The result is insufficient people to meet the needs of those who require care.
Such staffing shortages have already led to both temporary and permanent closures of care homes in Cumbria this autumn, and current council data shows the number of people awaiting social care packages at home continuing to rise.
Now social care providers will be able to apply for a grant to support staff recruitment and retention, the grant will allow them to enhance their pay and reward offer for staff. The aim is to encourage new people to choose a job in social care and help ensure existing staff are not lost to other employers. Staff working for the council’s in-house social care provider Cumbria Care will also receive an additional market supplement payment.
The funding for the sustainability fund is a combination of specific grants available to support social care provision in 2021/22 and the council’s financial volatility reserve which was established to support the financial impact of COVID on council services.