FAQs based on LGA/ADASS webinars 9 - 11 February 2021
Timescale for spending the funding
1. Can the funding be used to cover expenditure before 16 January or after 31 March?
The funding is intended to enable new activities or extend existing activities to improve workforce capacity. The funding cannot be used to cover expenditure before 16 January and must be spent by 31 March, though it may be spent on activities which will have an impact after this date (e.g. recruitment campaigns).
2. Is there any intention to extend the deadline for use of this funding past 31 March?
The fund is due to end on 31 March and there is currently no commitment from DHSC to continuing the funding after this date.
3. Can you employ someone on a temporary contract that runs beyond 31 March if it’s paid before 31 March?
No, the grant conditions state that 'the activity leading to the expense must have happened by 31 March 2021'.
Relationship to other funds
4. How does this relate to the existing Infection Control funding?
This funding is in addition to the £1.146 billion Infection Control Fund and the £149 million Rapid Testing Fund. If local authorities choose to pay providers grant money, it must be to support new expenditure, which has not already been funded by the Infection Control Fund or other public funding sources.
Infection control measures
5. Can the Workforce Capacity Fund be used to pay normal wages to self-isolating staff if Infection Control Fund 2 funding runs out?
No, according to the funding conditions, ‘the grant cannot be used on non-staffing capacity expenditure – for example, isolation pay’.
6. Can the fund be used to ensure regular supply of agency staff to prevent movement of staff?
Yes, up to the 31 March. However, agency and other staff must not be deployed in more than one setting. The grant aims to boost workforce capacity in order to enable providers to restrict staff movement.
7. How can staff redeployment or sharing be facilitated in line with the need to limit movement of staff for infection control purposes?
Wherever possible, local authorities and their providers should limit staff movement between care settings for infection control. However, staff could be temporarily redeployed from non-frontline positions or from suspended care services (e.g. closed day services) to allow for extra staffing capacity.
Surrey Choices, a local authority trading company owned by Surrey County Council, has developed a useful framework and Memorandum of Understanding to facilitating staff redeployment.
Allocation of funds
8. How do providers access the Workforce Capacity Fund?
The grant has been provided to local authorities so that they can take a strategic role in managing the workforce challenges in their area. Providers who would like to access assistance should contact their local authority to see what their plans are for using this fund.
9. How can providers find out how much they will be allocated, and any specific conditions of their local authority?
Providers will find out any allocations via their local council(s).
10. Some provider representatives have criticised local authorities for placing too many conditions on the use of this funding. How can local authorities work together with their providers to ensure the funding has a meaningful impact on improving workforce capacity?
Local authorities can place stipulations on the use of the funding and should ensure that any care providers in receipt of the funding use the grant to generate additional adult social care workforce capacity where shortages arise due to COVID-19 only and keep sufficient records to be able to demonstrate what specific staffing capacity was secured using this funding. However, local authorities should talk to their providers to understand how the funding could be used to best effect to address the workforce challenges in their area.
11. Can local authorities only allocate funding to providers registered in their geographical area (as with the Infection Control Fund round 2), or to all providers that they commission services from (as with the Infection Control Fund round 1)?
Either option is allowable. Neighbouring local authorities should come to a common agreement on which option they are using, so that there is consistency and providers are not left without support from any local authority. The fund should include those services not commissioned by local authorities.
12. Can the funding be used to support the wider care market, and not just care homes?
Yes, local authorities can use this funding to deliver staffing capacity measures that support all providers of adult social care in their area, including: residential and domiciliary care; care providers with which local authorities do not have contracts; and organisations providing care and support who may not be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Day care, short stay care services and supporting the capacity of the personal assistant workforce are also included.
Local authorities can also choose to passport some or all of the Fund directly to a care provider to deliver measures that increase staffing capacity within their organisation. However, they should ensure funding is only given directly to a provider that is registered with the CQC.
13. Can grant funding be passed to voluntary and community organisations?
Local authorities can use the Fund to deliver staffing capacity measures that support all providers of adult social care in their area, including but not limited to: residential and domiciliary care; care providers with which local authorities do not have contracts; and organisations providing care and support who may not be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This can include organisations in the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). Local authorities can also choose to passport some or all of the Fund directly to CQC registered providers of adult social care only. This can also include organisations within the VCS.
14. Can the fund be used to support unpaid carers?
No, the fund only covers the employed Adult Social Care workforce.
15. If local authorities are planning to run a bid process for their providers to access the Workforce Capacity Fund, how should this be documented in the Annexe D return for 12 February?
Local authorities should make clear if they are not passing funds directly to providers and the intended bid process should be documented clearly in the return. As the timescale for allocating and spending the funding is tight, local authorities should ensure any bid process is conducted quickly to maximise the time for providers to put the money to use.
Submitting proposed spending to DHSC
16. Do the spending figures submitted on 12 February have to be precise?
By 12 February, local authorities should submit an outline of their plans for spending the grant funding. This should include a breakdown of activity and costs that cumulatively add up to the full amount of grant allocated to the local authority. We believe that DHSC understand that some elements of these plans may not yet have all the detail in and that some ability to respond to unforeseen events is appropriate.
Wellbeing and employee support
17. How can it be used to support staff wellbeing (e.g. of staff who have experienced the death of a colleague)?
The funding might be used to purchase wellbeing resources for staff, such as wellbeing and resilience toolkits, apps, or counselling services, or used to promote existing online resources, helplines and text support to staff. It could also be used to provide guidance for managers on supporting workforce wellbeing. Additionally, the funding can be used to help improve staff flexibility, by enabling providers to use flexible shift patterns, or cover costs which might be barriers to staff taking on more hours, such as transport to work or childcare.
18. Can it be used to pay retention bonuses to staff or other incentives to improve retention?
The ASC Taskforce recommendations include offering a loyalty bonus to retain experienced members of the existing workforce. The funding can also be used to pay staff overtime for working flexible hours or working in addition to their contracted hours.
19. Would it be appropriate to use the funding to provide access to the internet for staff, to enhance communication and enable staff to access online training and support?
If this would lead to meaningful improvement of workforce capacity, then a local authority might wish to put it in their plan. However, a clear rational would need to be provided as to why this was necessary. For example, if paying for internet access would allow administration to be undertaken by a home worker in order to free up the capacity of qualified care staff to focus on providing care, or to allow an individual to conduct online training at home to prepare them to take on short-term care work.
Recruitment, redeployment and training
20. Some providers are concerned about bringing inexperienced new staff into the workforce at pace and the difficulty of retaining these staff. How can recruitment campaigns be effective in the short term, and what are the alternatives to funding recruitment?
Local authorities may wish to focus their recruitment efforts on staff with experience in social care, who have lower training needs relative to those who are recruited from other sectors, or recruit people with the experience to take on non-care work to increase the capacity of the existing workforce (e.g. administrative staff to work on testing and vaccination, staff to work in kitchens or as cleaners). If recruiting inexperienced staff, it may be beneficial to allocate some of the funding to covering training requirements. A useful suggestion from a recruitment webinar was that staff leaving social care were asked if they would be happy to be retained on a staff bank so that their expertise was not lost. The funding may also be directed towards helping the existing workforce to work as flexibly as possible, by allowing providers to pay their existing staff overtime or covering transport or childcare costs, up to 31 March, or to pay agency staff.
Hertfordshire Good Care Recruitment (run by the Hertfordshire Care Providers Association) advertises for Registered Managers, Care Assistants and Support Workers who are interested in temporary positions and available for immediate start to help connect providers with experienced staff.
21. Can this funding be used to respond to the Call to Care, and if so how?
The Fund could be used to support new social care staff that have been sourced through the Call to Care, for example by covering their training costs or paying their wages. The Fund could also work alongside the Call to Care as it can be used to support new administration and recruitment costs so could be used for expenditure relating to deploying the individuals sourced via Call to Care. Any activity paid for with the Fund must take place by 31 March as per the conditions of the Fund, and therefore if it is being used to pay the wages of newly recruited staff who are still in employment after 31 March their wages must be paid for using other sources of funding from that date.
22. Can the funding be put towards launching a Proud to Care initiative if Proud to Care will not be introduced before 31st March due to technical requirements?
The Fund must be used to deliver measures that result in additional staffing capacity for adult social care, and the activity leading to the expense must have happened by 31 March 2021. The grant may also be used to cover administrative and/or set up costs for measures that deliver additional workforce capacity for social care providers.
23. Can the funding be used to cover pay costs of local authority staff redeployed into work on improving workforce capacity, such as testing, PPE and recruitment campaigns, or just to cover additional costs incurred in redeployment (e.g. training)?
For measures that involve the redeployment of staff, such as redeployment of local authority staff into care services to take on administrative tasks or into new roles within the LA that support social care staffing capacity, the Fund should not be used to pay staff wages since these are existing costs that would have already been allocated expenditure prior to the Fund. The Fund could be used to support new expenditure associated with this redeployment, such as administration costs. In cases where new staff are recruited to work on measures that increase social care staffing capacity, such as employing new LA staff to implement a recruitment campaign, the Fund can be used to cover their wages up until 31 March as these count as new expenditure.
24. Can training be purchased before 31st March and delivered in the months ahead?
The funding can only be used to pay for activity that has taken place between 16 January and 31 March, so can't be used to pay for future activity past 31st March.
25. How can training take place by the end of March when providers are struggling to maintain sufficient staffing levels due to COVID and now inclement weather, making them unable to release staff to attend training courses?
The funding could be used to implement online training to enable greater flexibility in fulfilling training requirements. If training inexperienced new staff, the funding could be used to pay an external training provider to free up the capacity of existing staff.
26. Could you share some practice on how to deliver necessary in person trainings (e.g. fire warden training) remotely?
We will investigate specialist companies who can provide remote training in these areas and make them known, but it will be up to local areas to decide who to use.
27. Are DBS checks not free if working with COVID anyway?
A list of roles eligible for free-of-charge DBS checks is available on gov.uk. Local authorities may take on the role of recruiting, DBS checking and job matching candidates for their providers if this would help to reduce administrative pressures on providers and improve the capacity of the existing workforce, but local authorities should work with their providers to determine how the funds could most impactfully be used.
28. Could it be used for vaccine education or is this a different fund?
There is currently no dedicated funding for vaccine education via local authorities, but there are funded national campaigns. We suggest that, if local authorities believe that doing this will make a material difference to local workforce capacity, then you put it into your plan and flag it up so that DHSC can take a view on its allowability.