A care group has accused Sheffield City Council of using “underhand” tactics in a row over social care funding.
Sheffield Care Association (SCA) said city officials had rowed back on pledges not to make a Google form requesting sensitive information mandatory, giving care homes just a matter of hours to complete a complex form to access government money.
Roy Young, managing director of Silver Healthcare that operates two homes in the city, said: “Sheffield City Council’s behaviour in the midst of the biggest crisis the city’s independent care sector has ever faced continues to be underhand, disrespectful and insulting. They’ve delayed monies that have been promised to us by central government and they’re putting homes under yet more pressure by effectively means testing them with demands for reams of financially sensitive information – despite going on the record and denying they would do that.
“Other boroughs simply provide care homes with the government funding that’s allocated to them – why can’t Sheffield?”
A petition criticising the council’s support for care homes has gathered more than 1,000 signatures.
A council spokesperson denied SCA’s allegation that it had operated in an “underhand” way. They said had already received a 5% increase in funding and to get further support they needed to provide certain financial information in a Google form to receive help for exceptional, additional costs due to COVID-19. The council said 62 out of 111 homes had completed the forms and it was processing them “as quickly as possible”.
The spokesperson added: “What might have caused some confusion is that there is a further form for care homes to complete so that they can get the latest money from the government’s Infection Control Fund. As long as they have registered on the ‘NHS Capacity Tracker’ they will receive extra government funding and we have already paid the first instalment to care homes from this fund.”
The council said it had provided 102 homes with £1.97m, adding: “The government has stated that it requires care homes to show how they have spent this money so we will be gathering this information from them in the most straightforward way. This is the message that we have passed on to our care homes.”
The LA added that the crisis had cost £77m across all services but it had only received £34m from the government. Sheffield City Council said it continued to urge care homes who had not informed of their financial circumstances to do so “as soon as they can”.
“Our main message, for those homes that engage with us is ‘we’ll do the paperwork our end as quickly as possible and stand by you to help you through this’, “ the council said.