Following the Jeremy Hunt amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill the following motion is needed
Strengthening workforce planning in children’s social care placements
A duty on the Secretary of State to publish a report describing the system in place for assessing and meeting workforce needs. This will bring clarity to workforce planning of the scale of the challenge facing the sector. The duty will tell us whether we are training enough people now to deliver services to meet need in future.
The workforce crisis is apparent now, the cause of social care placements not currently having regular, independent and public workforce projection data. A strong foundation for strategic long-term decisions are needed about funding, workforce planning, regional shortages and the skill mix required to help the system keep up with rising need, based on evolving changes in demand and in working patterns among staff.
Secretary of State’s duty to report on workforce systems
(1) The Secretary of State must, at least once every two years, lay a report to parliament describing the system in place for assessing and meeting the workforce needs of social care placements for children in England.
(2) This report must include
- a) an independently verified assessment of workforce numbers, current at the time of report publication and the projected supply for the following 5, 10 and 20 years
- b) an independently verified assessment of workforce numbers based on the projected health and care needs of the population for the following 5, 10 and 20 years, consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility long-term fiscal projections
(3) All social care organisations must assist in the preparation of a report under this section.
(4) There must be consultation with all organisations or persons deemed necessary for the preparation of this report, taking full account of workforce intelligence, evidence and plans from local organisations and partners.
Explanatory notes This amendment would require published assessments every 2 years of the workforce numbers required to deliver the work that the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates will be carried out in future, based on projected demographic changes, the growing prevalence of certain health conditions and likely impact of technology.
Why do we need this motion?
We have no agreed, publicly available assessment of workforce numbers now nor into the future
Workforce is a key limiting factor in the government’s ambitions for children’s social care placements. W must have the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours to deliver world-leading services and continued high standards of care. The Secretary of State must ensure a long-term approach to workforce planning.
Local responses are inadequate to the challenge. Local organisations do not have access to the levers that government does resulting in local assessments that will not lead, for example, to national investment required to fill any staffing gaps that might be revealed.
A local only approach would also not increase government accountability or transparency on workforce planning, and would fail to ensure a collective understanding of current and future workforce numbers. Locally driven assessments have a place but should come alongside a national picture and direction of travel.
Public assessments of the current and future workforce numbers should be a useful tool to support smart long-term investment in the workforce, and could generate public confidence that increased funding will lead to improvements in access and outcomes because there are enough staff to provide timely care.
How does this motion work?
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts likely care spending by projecting care activity, taking into account demographic changes and other factors such as the changing cost of care, and rising prevalence of certain health conditions. This amendment asks for the published assessments of future staff numbers to be based on those OBR projections and the assumptions tied up in them. It is a way to ensure we have the staff numbers required to deliver the work that the OBR estimates we will carry out in future.
The assessments should take a whole system approach for the long-term sustainability of social care placements. The proposed report has two elements. 2(a) sets out current workforce numbers at the time of publication, and what those numbers will look like over the next 5, 10 and 20 years on current projections. 2(b) then sets out what numbers will need to be over the same time period to keep pace with demand consistent with OBR projections.
Projections of this kind should inform local and regional training and recruitment needs. They should also underpin a long-term workforce implementation strategy that sets out how we can improve recruitment and retention to meet the staff we need.
This is a significant change and stronger than any preparation of reports ‘if required to do so by the Secretary of State’.
Why every 2 years?
The need is for consistent regular reporting unaffected by Parliamentary periods. A 2-year reporting cycle should allow government and other bodies sufficient time to begin action in response to the projected numbers, without leaving too long between cycles that the figures are fundamentally different, or that action is lost to the electoral cycle. A workforce planning document that is only published at a maximum of every 5 years will not be sufficiently responsive to potential societal shifts or unexpected external events.
Why 5, 10 and 20 years?
Projecting over these regular time periods means we can take account of changes across the workforce and the wider population. Assessment of current workforce data, alongside sophisticated projections for the immediate, medium and long term are critical for tackling service shortfalls of supply.