The government has announced details of how round two of the Infection Control Fund (ICF) will be distributed to care providers in England, across all settings.
The £546 million grant will be split between care homes and community care providers, with 71% (387.5m) allocated to care homes, and 29% (£158.5m) allocated to community care providers, including domiciliary care, extra care and supported living.
Under the new guidance, local authorities are obliged to pass 80% of the funding to care homes on a ‘per bed’ basis and to CQC-regulated community care providers, including those that support the self-funded market, on a ‘per user’ basis.
The remaining 20% will be allocated by local authorities to care homes or community care providers and support wider workforce resilience.
The first tranche of the fund was paid to local authorities on October 1 and the second tranche is set to be paid in December.
The government said it expects local authorities to take “no longer than 20 working days” to pass on their allocated funding to care providers and that the grant is fully spent on infection control measures by March 31, 2021.
The funding can now be used to pay the wages of staff who are sick or self-isolating due to COVID-19.
The 80% allocation must not be used to pay for the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE), the guidance states, but local authorities may use 20% of the grant on “other COVID-19 infection control measures”, including the purchase of PPE.
Last month, the government announced that health and social care workers will receive an “uninterrupted supply” of PPE from November.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director at NCF, said: “The publication of the grant conditions for the Infection Control Fund provide some much needed clarity to this essential government funding. NCF welcome the fact that the government has recognised that infection control pressures stretch much wider than care homes, and has included domiciliary care, extra care and supported living settings within the funding.
“However, it is hugely disappointing that the government has chosen to do this whilst simultaneously both reducing the total amount of the fund and extending the period of the funding. In practice, this means that care homes, who were the primary focus of the first round of the ICF, will receive on average approximately only 50% of the funding per month that they received in the last round, in the face of tighter restrictions around staff movement and greatly increased reporting requirements. This is extremely unhelpful at the outset of what looks to be an incredibly challenging winter period.”
A list of examples of ways in which providers can spend the funding as part of the ‘per beds’ or ‘per user’ allocation can be found here.