Thank you for contacting me about support for the social care sector and for people with learning disabilities.
I completely agree that social care is at the front line of the fight with coronavirus, protecting vulnerable people and continuing to provide vital care in communities across the country.
The Government has also made £2.9bn funding available, comprised of £1.6bn for local authorities across the country to ensure that they are able to deal with the impact of coronavirus on social care.
It is most welcome that care providers in England will benefit from an additional £546m to boost infection control, reduce COVID-19 transmission, and help protect residents and staff throughout winter, as an extension of the Infection Control Fund, first established in May. This brings the total funding for infection control measures in care homes to over £1.1bn. The fund will help care providers pay staff full wages while self-isolating, as well as enabling staff to work in only one care home to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
I know that the Government is also fully committed to supporting the 5.4 million unpaid carers over the winter months. Funding has recently been extended to Carers UK’s support phone line until March 2021 to cover the winter period, and the Department for Health and Social Care will also provide free flu vaccines for unpaid carers. Existing support will remain available including the Carer’s Allowance, as well as through NHS volunteers who can provide support by going shopping or collecting prescriptions.
£37 million has also been allocated to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in 2020/21 with £10 million committed specifically in response to the unique difficulties posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. This fund will provide the means for computers, specialist equipment and educational toys. Ministers are working closely with charities to deliver support programmes. The ‘See, Hear, Respond’ partnership, spearheaded by Barnardo’s and funded with £7 million from the Department for Education, will quickly identify and support children and families who are struggling to cope with the impacts of Coronavirus.
Detailed guidance for those providing unpaid care can be found here:
Respite care is crucial for families of children with SEND and I know that this service has been disrupted. I am assured by colleagues in Government that where it is not possible for local authorities to arrange respite care, they should discuss alternative arrangements with parents.
I fully support the social care sector and will continue to ensure that it is at the forefront of consideration during this difficult time.