The government has announced an extra £60m for local authorities to support adult social care during this month.
The additional funding, which comes as Omicron cases increase rapidly across the country, is in addition to £388m provided to prevent infections and provide testing.
Local authorities can use the funding to support the sector and protect people from COVID-19 infection, including improved ventilation, increasing the use of Direct Payments – which are offered to people with eligible social care needs so they have choice and control over their care and support arrangements – or paying for COVID-19 sickness and self-isolation pay for staff.
Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said: “Protecting care staff and people who use social care services continues to be a priority, especially as cases surge and Omicron spreads rapidly around the country.
“Today’s extra funding will ensure that we continue to support adult social care to keep people safe and prevent outbreaks. A huge thank you goes out to care workers for all they are doing to care for people and keep themselves and others safe this winter.
“I urge anyone who has yet to get a booster to come forward – vaccines are our best defence against this virus so Get Boosted Now.”
Independent Care Group (ICG) chair Mike Padgham welcomed the move but said the government should have acted at the end of the summer when it was warned of an impending staff crisis.
The move follows the government’s announcement on Christmas Eve that care providers would be able to recruit carers from overseas.
“Both of these moves are very welcome but long, long overdue,” Mike said. “We warned in the summer that social care was heading into a very real staffing crisis and appealed to the Government then for help.
“Only now is it responding with what many will agree is too little and too late.”