£5.5m extra is set to be spent in 2022/23 on looking after vulnerable adults, older people and supporting the care sector (Cabinet item 9, 13 January).
Increased payments to the homecare sector will see an increase in the homecare rate we pay from £16.57 an hour to £19 an hour. This £1.3m investment will help tackle some of the recruitment and retention issues experienced recently and is the largest investment into this area for many years. The council will be monitoring this funding to ensure it reaches care workers.
The continued investment will also help meet additional demand in adult social care services, help providers improve pay and conditions for care workers, support care providers, increase the essential living fund budget, and increase direct payments to people who buy their own care and support.
The focus is particularly important following the pandemic and how vulnerable people have relied on key support from care workers who have been on the frontline, continuing to do home visits and carry out one-to-one care, despite the risks of passing on or catching Covid.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “It is not always appreciated how many services that the term ‘social care’ includes and how most of the money we receive is spent on looking after the most vulnerable residents in Southend-on-Sea.
“Social care is often misunderstood because luckily for most people, they do not experience the services and support offered until they or someone they love, has need of it. Looking after our residents is a core function of local authorities, which is why such a high proportion of our spending goes towards these services.
“Care workers have been on the frontline for the best part of two years now and I want to thank each and every one of them for their hard work and dedication to their neighbours and fellow residents of Southend. Without our care teams, many people in our Borough would have struggled without support.”
Adult social care covers everything from adaptations made to homes where someone needs extra support, for example handrails in shower to prevent slipping, through to care delivered at home for adults who are older, or with disabilities but living independently. We also provide vital support for residents with physical, mental health or learning disability needs.
Cllr Cheryl Nevin, cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “Adult social care is a term that covers every and all support given to any person over the age of 18 to help them live independently in the Borough. It also involves investigating any safeguarding queries raised relating to the welfare of a resident.
“There is so much more to social care services than first meets the eye and with increased demands and pressure, we must continue to invest in these services.
“This investment will address some of the recruitment and retention issues we have been experiencing this year, will provide training for staff and will give partners and the Council opportunity for better reporting mechanisms.
“This investment signals to care workers in Southend-on-Sea, who have historically been one of the lowest paid amongst local authorities, that we recognise and value the work they do for our residents.”
The draft budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday 13 January, the council’s three scrutiny committees at the start of February, with the final budget to be discussed and approved at Full Council on Thursday 24 February.