Building on the People at the Heart of Care white paper, the government has set out plans to further digitise the social care sector and bolster the workforce.

  • Building on the People at the Heart of Care white paper, the government has set out plans to further digitise the social care sector and bolster the workforce
  • Alongside the plan, the Better Care Fund framework, published today, will ensure at least £16.8 billion is spent to make sure people receive the right care in the right place at the right time.
  • Plans will support Prime Minister’s ambition to cut waiting lists by reducing pressure on urgent and emergency care and freeing up beds for those who need them

People who receive care, staff and providers will benefit from a refreshed plan to bolster the adult social care workforce, speed up discharge from hospital and accelerate the use of technology in the sector over the next two years.

The update builds on commitments outlined in the People at the Heart of Care white paper – published in December 2021 – to support career progression in the sector and make sure those who receive care get it in the right place at the right time.

Today’s allocations of over £2 billion previously announced funding include:

  • Launching a call for evidence in partnership with Skills for Care on a new care workforce pathway and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places, including a new Care Certificate qualification – aiming to increase opportunities for career progression and development, backed by £250 million
  • £100 million to accelerate digitisation in the sector, including investment in digital social care records so staff have the latest information at their fingertips to best meet the needs of those receiving care
  • A new innovation and improvement unit to explore creative solutions for improving care, such as supporting local authorities to reduce care assessment waiting times and using best practice from those areas where waiting times have already been cut by a third – backed by up to £35 million
  • A £1.4 billion Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund which local authorities can use flexibly including to increase the rates paid to social care providers or reduce waiting times
  • £102 million over two years to help make small but significant adaptations people need to remain at home, stay independent and avoid hospital – including grab rails and ramps, small repairs and safety and security checks
  • £50 million to improve social care insight, data and quality assurance – including person-level data collections and new Care Quality Commission assessments of local authorities to improve poor performance on social care and identify where further support is needed

Alongside these reform commitments, the Better Care Fund, which brings together health, social care and housing to help older people and those with complex needs live at home for longer, will increase from £7.7 billion last year to £8.1 billion in 2023 and £8.7 billion in 2024. The total fund includes £1.6 billion to improve hospital discharge arrangements – £600 million next year and £1 billion the year following.

This is part of the government’s wider commitments to support adult social care services, backed by up to £7.5 billion over the next two years to help local authorities address waiting lists and workforce pressures in the sector, as announced in the Autumn Statement.

The government remains fully dedicated to the 10-year vision for adult social care set out in the People at the Heart of Care white paper, and since then, has boosted workforce capacity with 55,000 visas issued for people to take up care worker roles, increased uptake of Digital Social Care Records by 10 percentage points, and have launched new and improved data collections.

Health Minister Helen Whately said:

Care depends completely on the people who do the caring – that’s over a million care staff working in care homes and agencies, and countless relatives, friends and volunteers, acting out of the kindness of their hearts.

That’s why this package of reforms focuses on recognising care with the status it deserves, while also focusing on the better use of technology, the power of data and digital care records, and extra funding for councils – aiming to make a care system we can be proud of.

Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Deborah Sturdy, said:

Working in social care is such a varied, exciting and rewarding career, and I’m pleased that these reforms recognise the enormous potential in investing in the professional development of our highly skilled workforce.

Along with technological advancements that will make the lives of care workers easier, this plan is an exciting continuation of the government’s commitment to reform social care.

Since launching the People at the Heart of Care white paper the government has already invested hundreds of millions of pounds on reform including digital transformation, hospital discharge and staffing support but the government plans to go further and faster during the next two years of the 10-year plan.

Advances in technology mean there are many aids and devices which could improve care such as smart speakers to remind people to take medication or sensors which can detect falls and alert people to provide support quickly.

By utilising these developments and digitising records, backed by a further £100 million, the aim is for 80% of registered providers to have a digital care record by March 2024, ensuring all information that staff need to support a person’s care can be available digitally – which speeds up shift handovers and can save 20 minutes of admin time per care worker per shift.

The government is also asking for expressions of interest from integrated care systems to fund care technologies which focus on the quality of care and help reduce avoidable hospital admissions, or which will support for people to live independently.

From April 2023 the Care Quality Commission will begin to assess local authorities to identify where further support is needed and help identify good practice. This will ensure a continued focus on delivering quality care and improving services.

New national data collection will also begin, to provide better information on care journeys and outcomes, bringing social care data more in line with NHS collections.

Further reforms include the use of Home Improvement Agencies to help make the small but significant adaptations people need to remain at home, stay independent and avoid or reduce the need to stay in hospital. These could include modifications such as grab rails and ramps, small repairs and safety and security checks.

In partnership with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, we are launching a new, independently chaired Older People’s Housing Taskforce to decide how best to provide a greater range of suitable housing depending on the support people need.

As well as reducing the need for people to go to hospital the government is committed to reducing the time people stay in hospital with £1.6 billion being allocated over the next two years to improve hospital discharge, following the £700 million provided in 2022/23.

These reforms will support social care as well as the wider health sector, contributing to wider efforts to tackle backlogs and cut waiting lists.

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said:

Skills for Care is working in partnership with the DHSC to develop the Care Workforce Pathway that will create a clear shared understanding of the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours needed to work effectively in adult social care. People who draw on care and support, the workforce, managers and employers will know what to expect and can make informed choices that are right for them.

The pathway must build on what works, so I would encourage anyone involved in delivering, or accessing, social care to make sure your voices are heard as part of the call for evidence to influence the training and career progression pathways of tomorrow.


Published 4 April 2023