People working in adult social care in England will benefit from at least £500 million from the Health and Social Care Levy to improve recruitment, retention, progression, and staff wellbeing.
In total the Levy will generate a record £36 billion over the next three years which will be invested in the health and social care system to ensure it has the long-term resource it needs while working to reduce patient waiting times and speed up diagnoses, including to clear the Covid backlog in the NHS.
Half a billion from the £5.4 billion dedicated to adult social care from the Levy, which comes into force on Wednesday 6 April, forms a package of support for the social care workforce as part of the adult social care reform White Paper, People at the Heart of Care.
The funding will attract new staff into the sector and support those already in it by providing significant investment in individual learning and development and supporting staff mental health and wellbeing.
Minister of State for Care and Mental Health Gillian Keegan said:
“I am incredibly proud of all the social care staff who have worked so hard, particularly during the pandemic.
“As we recover from Covid, we must look to the future and to reform – this £500 million package of support will boost workforce recruitment, allow staff to progress in their careers in the sector and very importantly, ensure staff wellbeing is better supported.
“The type of genuinely transformational change cannot be accomplished overnight. We know staff will need continued support, but we hope this package will level up opportunities for current and future social care staff.”
The offer laid out by government will be vital in the recovery of the social care system from the pandemic, including:
- A knowledge and skills framework, career pathways and linked investment for learning and development to support progression for care workers and registered managers.
- Funding for Care Certificates, alongside significant work to create a delivery standard recognised across the sector to improve transferability across settings, so care workers do not need to repeat the Care Certificate when moving roles.
- Continuous professional development budgets for registered nurses, nursing associates, occupational therapists and other allied health professionals.
- Investment in social worker training.
- Initiatives to provide wellbeing and mental health support and to improve access to occupational health to support staff resilience and recovery following their role in the pandemic.
- A new digital hub for the workforce to access support, information and advice, and a portable record of learning and development.
- New policies to identify and support best recruitment practices locally.
- Exploration of new national and local policies to ensure consistent implementation of the above, as well as higher standards of employment and care provided.
The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on the NHS. The number of people waiting for elective care in England is at 6 million – up from 4.4 million before the pandemic – and this is expected to rise, as up to 10 million people didn’t come forward for treatment during the pandemic.
The necessary, fair and responsible Levy will enable the NHS to offer more appointments, checks, scans and operations and reform the way services are delivered so the NHS is fit for the future, rather than simply plugging the gaps.
Backed by the Levy, five local authorities in England have already been announced to implement a new and improved adult social care charging reform system which caps the cost of care. To ensure a smooth transition from the current charging system the five trailblazing local authorities – Wolverhampton, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Newham, North Yorkshire – will put the charging reform plans in place in January 2023 ahead of a national rollout in October next year. The trailblazing areas were selected to ensure a cross section of communities are represented and so any insight, evidence and lessons learned from this initiative will be useful to providers and authorities in all parts of England.
The Levy will initially be based on National Insurance contributions (NICs) and from 2023 will be legislatively separate.
Every individual will contribute according to their means. Those who earn more pay more, with the highest 15 per cent of people paying over half the revenues.
Low earners will be shielded from the levy following action taken by the Chancellor in the Spring Statement last month. From July, the level at which people pay National Insurance on their income will rise to £12,570, saving a typical employee over £330 a year. The change does not affect the funding available to Health and Social Care.
Recognising this year will be tough on household budgets, a £9.1 billion package will see most households receive £350 to help with rising energy bills, including a £150 cash grant via the Council Tax system in April, and a £200 reduction in energy bills in October with the cost smoothed over 5 years.