Another Funding Shortage in Adult Social Care

As of 1 April 2022 all legislation in relation to COVID-19 restrictions was removed. This included the statutory sick pay provisions, which were officially scrapped on 24 March 2022.  However, this could have dire consequences for the financial viability of many adult social care providers.

Vic Rayner, Chief Executive at NCF, Sam Monaghan, Chief Executive at MHA and Karolina Gerlich Chief Executive CWC wrote a letter to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, stating that the consequences could be catastrophic for providers who have to cover sick pay without the Infection Control Fund (“ICF”) support and rising COVID-19 levels. Up until 24 March 2022, employees were potentially eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) of £96.35 a week for 28 weeks if they were self-isolating because of COVID-19. Further to this, the IFC was rolled out by the Government to assist adult social care providers cover costs in relation to COVID-19, including SSP. MHA, a charity care provider, has warned that the removal of this funding by virtue of scrapping statutory sick pay provisions in relation to COVID-19 could mean up to £150k in extra costs for providers a month.

The letter also criticised the COVID-19 testing policy for care homes, arguing the inconsistencies effectively rendered testing useless. Current guidance states all asymptomatic staff should be testing daily using lateral flow tests (“LFT”) before their shifts and residents monthly with a PCR. However, this comes at the end of free testing, which will be another added cost to providers just so they are able to continue following government guidance.

In their Response to COVID-19 – Living with COVID-19, the Government stated there would still be limited symptomatic testing for at-risk groups and free symptomatic testing for care staff, but has yet to decide the logistics of this testing regime. Further, this is only for symptomatic testing, this does not account for the costs that will be accrued by providers for asymptomatic testing of residents and staff alike in order to continue following government guidance.

It is clear that the withdrawal of funding means more costs for a sector that didn’t have enough funding to begin with. How providers will cope has yet to be seen, but it is likely that Government intervention and support will be necessary to ensure the health and safety of these vulnerable populations.

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