SPENDING to help Staffordshire’s care sector manage the impact of the coronavirus is set to increase further – to almost £20m since the start of the pandemic. The funding will support a raft of measures to ease the pressure on care homes and care providers, including the distribution of more than 700,000 free emergency items of Personal Protect Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and aprons, to ensure every care home in Staffordshire has what it needs. Philip Atkins, Staffordshire County Council’s Leader, pictured, said: "While as a country and as a council we are focusing more on how we support our economy and our communities to recover from the unprecedented disruption to our lives, it is important to remember that our response to Covid-19 is still ongoing. "Our care homes, supported living settings and home care providers have been on the frontline, supporting the most vulnerable people across Staffordshire. "They have done an amazing job in the face of unprecedented challenges around finance, staffing levels, managing outbreaks and even sourcing PPE, which is not only in short supply, but has also rocketed in price. "So, although demand for funding across council services is likely to outstrip what is available, we feel providing some additional funding to help the care sector through the pandemic is the right thing to do.” The county council has been supporting care providers with guidance and advice on a daily basis and has already pledged £13.6m to help with staffing costs, increased care packages and purchasing additional PPE. Almost £2m has now been spent on securing emergency PPE and it is now recommended that the council’s Cabinet approves an additional £4.3m for the care sector. In March, the council received £22.3m from Government to contribute to Covid-19 related costs. An additional grant of £15.4m is expected to be received later this month. These allocations continue to be used to fund a range of further actions including: The distribution of more than 1,500 food parcels to vulnerable self isolators; More support for care leavers; Additional support for foster carers; Extra funding for nursery care/childminders to stay open for key workers and vulnerable children; The launch of I Count to allow council workers to switch roles to support the frontline efforts; The launch of I Care - which has seen almost 200 volunteers trained to deliver personal care;
A rent holiday at Enterprise Centres; A £500,000 grant scheme to support micro businesses. However, despite funding from Government, the county council warned last month that continued spending will outstrip this. As the county council has also been unable to deliver planned savings, the estimated financial impact could total £50m. The increasing pressures on local authority budgets continues to be raised with Government. An update on the county council’s response to Covid-19 and PPE provision will be presented to Cabinet next week.