Social care experts call for direct funding for training

Training cash for the social care workforce should bypass local authorities and go straight to the skills council to deliver funds where they are most needed, according to senior figures in the sector.

Skills for Care, the body responsible for improving workforce standards across social care, published a report last month which revealed councils had under-spent their main social care training grants by more than £35m in 2006-07. The report said the cash was not ring-fenced for boosting skills and had been spent on other services.

But Stephen Lenton, HR director at social care provider Heritage Care, told Personnel Today it would be better if the sector’s employers allocated the money themselves, rather than risk local authorities spending it elsewhere. The lack of funding in social care was making it difficult to attract and retain staff, he said.

“It would be fairer to enable Skills for Care to split the money out across more providers. A lot of people with less urgent needs get the money at present. Despite putting more cash in, there has been no [positive] change in the workforce,” he said. “Below-inflation pay rises from many of the 15 local authorities that buy our services make it difficult to plan ahead.”

Annie Stevenson, senior policy adviser at charity Help the Aged, agreed that training grants should be protected for social care employers. “Training and improving the quality of the workforce is a number one priority,” she said. “The money for social care should be protected, rather than going into the black hole of local authorities.”

However, Skills for Care insisted local authorities were improving social care services, and said it planned to evaluate the funding system in the near future.

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