Care workers are up in arms after being told that millions of pounds of funding for training was being put on hold.
BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours Today programme revealed on Friday that the Workforce Development Fund (WDF) would be frozen for at least three months because the money was being used to train new staff hired under the government’s social care recruitment campaign.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced in April that the government would pay for the initial induction training for the renewed national social care recruitment campaign as it looked to hire 20,000 new social care workers.
Social care staff expressed their dismay with the decision to freeze the WDF during the You and Yours Today broadcast on Friday.
John Buttle, a former social worker who now runs a training company, said: “It feels like in social care we are all told we have got this protective ring around us and what a wonderful job we’re doing and yet we are last in line for everything accept kind words. Now we find out that training is being halted as well. This training fund is what social care employers have been using regularly year after year to upscale their workforce and it was turned around in two days and said we are going to have to put the training on hold.”
Sue Livett, managing director of the Aldingbourne Trust, which supports people with autism and learning difficulties in residential and community settings, said she feared the freeze on training would force skilled workers to leave the profession.
“If people don’t feel equipped in their work, they are going to leave aren’t they?” Sue said. “They are going to go somewhere else where they are supported and feel confident and comfortable in what they have to do. I do fear that staff will leave if they are not well supported.”
Responding to the outcry, Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth, said: “It was never the intention that the WDF would be paused beyond a few months while the sector responded to the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our focus at Skills for Care is the skills and development of the sector, nothing is more important to us than care workers being and feeling valued and having the right skills. We have so many new people coming into social care and we want them to see what a great job it is, be developed and stay working with us. We also want to continue to support and develop colleagues who have remained supporting people throughout this crisis.
“My team and I have spoken to a number of people this week who had concerns and want to thank them for their time. Following positive discussions with the department around the balance between supporting new staff and continuing development we are now looking at how we will resume funding workforce development training though WDF in the coming weeks.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson added: “This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have worked with our partners to prioritise some of the Workforce Development Fund to support employers with induction and refresher training for their staff and volunteers.
“This funding, along with our national recruitment campaign, supports the urgent need to recruit and train new people into social care roles.
“We are also working closely with Skills for Care to begin commissioning workforce development training through the WDF in the coming days.”