Local authorities have put in place an ‘extensive range of measures’ to support social care providers to deal with increased costs and other pressures during the pandemic, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has claimed.
Due to increased concerns from providers about government funding not making it to the frontline, ADASS has published survey results of its members about how the first tranche of money was being used to support care operators.
On 19 March the government made available £1.6bn to local government to contribute to additional costs associated with the pandemic.
ADASS said while it was suggested the money should contribute to adult social care provider costs there were other commitments, including those linked to rough sleepers and shielding vulnerable people.
The survey of directors found 95% of local authorities (LAs) used a variety of payment methods in advance to support providers, with 5% not specifying how they were supporting operator cashflow.
It said financial support being offered included increased homecare and care home rates of between 5-10%, fast-track payments and one-off grants. Non-financial support included procurement and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE), and virtual training and advice.
On Tuesday, during a Health and Social Care Committee hearing, Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green told MPs he feared providers would go under and called for a ‘national strategy’ to get the money directly to the frontline as well as an ‘examination’ of what needed to be local and what needed to be national.
However, ADASS president James Bullion said: ‘I think what works is local not national actually. Nationally, approaches to testing and PPE have been very, very challenging. Where it’s worked well is with local government and local NHS coming together to protect social care and that is the model I would encourage the committee to look at.’
Nine out of ten local authorities with responsibility for adult social care in England took part in the survey between 28 April and 1 May.
Responding to the findings, Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, which represents more than 100 charities that support disabled people, said he did not recognise the picture painted in the survey.
He said: ‘Whilst there are some pockets of good practice that have seen commissioners working with the sector to shore up services as part of local pandemic responses, for many charities supporting disabled people these additional funds have not made their way to the front.
‘Furthermore, some local authorities are attaching onerous terms and conditions to funding at a time when they should be working in partnership with the voluntary sector to ensure the very best possible outcomes for people who rely on social care at this difficult time.’
A further £1.6bn has been allocated to local government and £600m for infection control within care homes. However, Hughes said money from central government was ‘simply not enough to go around’.