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5th January 2017

Extra £10m won't stop social care meltdown

A £10m increase in funding for social care has been described as a "sticking plaster" that won't cover a massive funding gap.

The additional money for the sector was announced by Rebecca Evans, AM, the Welsh Government's Minister for Social Services and Public Health.

The announcement was welcomed by Care Forum Wales chairman Mario Kreft MBE, but he warned it was nowhere near enough.

According to the Welsh Government, the new investment will form part of a three-way agreement to be established between the Welsh Government, local government and social care employers to work together to create a more stable social care workforce.

They say the funding will help meet the extra costs associated with the introduction of the national living wage and that it is in addition to the extra £25m for social care, which was announced in the draft 2017-18 budget in October.

But Mr Kreft said: "Any extra funding to a sector in meltdown is to be welcomed, but in reality it is a sticking plaster which will fail to plug the massive funding gap.

“Care providers welcome Welsh Government’s recognition of the pressures the introduction of the national living wage has placed on the sector. We all want to see care workers better rewarded for the vital service they provide and the increasing professionalisation of the workforce as we move towards registration.

"But in the months since October 2015 we will have seen the minimum pay rates of our care workers increase by 12 per cent. We estimate the cost of this to be at least £80m. It will also have a knock-on effect across the board because it will be impossible to maintain pay differentials as we would like.

"We are pleased that the Welsh Government has prioritised social care as a sector of national strategic importance, but there needs to be recognition the sector remains under pressure. The on-going demands of the national living wage increases and registration mean that the value we place on the sector and the funding it receives will need to be revisited with our partners in Welsh Government, local authorities and health boards to make it sustainable.”

"In the meantime, this extra funding should be ring-fenced so we can ensure local authorities spend it on social care.

"The sector is not strong and this will make it neither sustainable nor fit for the future. My view is that we need the new regional partnership boards with equal partners sitting around the table, working with a new spirit of collaboration. They must be more than talking shops – they must deliver."

The announcement from the Welsh Government can be found here. See Mr Kreft talking about this issue on ITV News on January 9 at 6pm.

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