The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published a new set of initiatives on adult social care that allocates £100 million for digitisation in the sector but cuts in half the amount it previously pledged to spend on workforce development.
The government’s announcement on its next steps to support people who receive social care is a follow up to its December 2021 government white paper “People at the Heart Of Care”.
The white paper pledged to invest £150 million in digitisation over the next three years. A DHSC spokesman told Digital Health News that £50 million has already been spent, and that the £100 million announced on Tuesday represents the remainder of the pledged amount.
Although the 2021 white paper also committed to invest “at least £500 million so the social care workforce have the right training and qualifications and feel recognised and valued for their skills and commitment,” Tuesday’s announcement included only £250 million in spending on the social care workforce.
The DHSC spokesman said the additional £250 million pledged to workforce investment remains “within social care but has yet to be allocated”.
In February, the Expert Panel on the digitisation of the NHS testified before the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee that the digital maturity of the social care sector lagged behind that of the health service in a number of areas, including workforce training.
The Expert Panel included testimony from a number of organisations in the care sector expressing concern about the low level of digital skills within the sector.
Responding to the government’s announcement on Tuesday, the Carers Trust executive director for programmes, policy & impact Rohati Chapman said: “Carers Trust is bitterly disappointed by today’s announcement, which shows a huge gulf between the crisis in adult social care and the level of investment being provided to make transformational reforms.
“Halving social care workforce funding to £250 million at a time when the sector is facing a massive shortage will do almost nothing to reverse the sector’s worrying recruitment and retention problems.”