AN EXTRA £10 million a year of new funding will help ensure the social care sector is strong and sustainable for the future, the minister for social services and public health has announced.

The new investment will form part of a three-way agreement to be established between the Welsh Government, local government and social care employers to work together to create a more stable social care workforce. The Welsh Government funding will help meet the extra costs associated with the introduction of the national living wage.

It is in addition to the extra £25 million for social care, which was announced in the draft 2017-18 budget in October.

Further funding to support social care in 2017-18 will be available as the maximum weekly charge for domiciliary care rises from £60 to £70.

The minister for social services and public health Rebecca Evans, said: “In Wales, we have prioritised social care as a sector of national strategic importance. “Tens of thousands of people rely on these vital services every day. We know that the sector is crucial to the effective running of the wider healthcare system, which is why we are supporting the integration of health and social care through our £60m Intermediate Care Fund. 

“We have engaged with our social care partners to understand the issues facing the sector – the financial impact of implementing the UK government’s national living wage has emerged as a primary concern.

“This investment underpins a joint commitment between partners – we will provide funding, local authorities will invest in service provision and employers will create a more valued workforce, reducing the high turnover in staff currently experienced.”

 The minister also announced that the maximum amount people can be charged for homecare and other non-residential care will increase from £60 a week to £70 from April 2017. The uplift will complement the extra £10-million-a-year investment, ensuring care across Wales continues to be of good quality.

The rise reflects the need to invest in domiciliary care and takes account of inflation over the two-year period that the current £60 maximum charge has been in place. It will raise more than £4 million a year in additional income for local authorities to use to tackle pressures in the social care sector, including financial pressures caused by the introduction of the national living wage.

The minister added: “Alongside our recurrent £10 million investment, I have also been considering the maximum charge for domiciliary care. I believe the time is now right to uplift it. “Taken together, these announcements will mean millions of pounds more are invested in social care every year. This will ensure we all benefit from a strong, sustainable sector that is fit for the future.”

Cllr Huw David, Welsh Local Government Association spokesman on social care and health, said: “We warmly welcome the additional £10 million to assist with funding the implementation of the national living wage for care workers. Equally the decision to raise the maximum charge for domiciliary care from £60 to £70 is a beneficial step in the right direction and it is the view of the WLGA that it will need to increase further in future years to help cover some of the extra costs.”

Jayne Bryant, AM for Newport West, who sits on the health, social care and sport committee said she visited Parklands Residential Home in December with Ms Evans AM and spoke to staff and residents about the “importance of continuous improvement and investment in caring for our older population.”

She said the extra funding announced yesterday is an important step towards achieving this.

“Health and social care go hand in hand. With an increasingly ageing population where people are living longer, social care is integral to safeguarding our NHS.”

She added: “The rise in pay for low-wage workers is very welcome. The extra £10m will ensure employers can retain staff, securing services for those at their most vulnerable.

“It is important that our social care workforce is recognised and valued for the good work they do.”