COVID-19 and additional costs for Providers
We are aware that many providers have been asking Local Authorities about access to additional funding and support to help mitigate against the impact of COVID-19. This page summarises the support available to providers.
The national picture and government guidance
There is no blanket response to requests from providers. Different parts of the country have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic in different ways. For example, because infection and deaths rates vary, different providers across the country e experienced the outbreak in different ways, with different impacts on their workforce.
The Government has issued guidance on:
- financial support to education, early years and children’s social care providers
- financial support for businesses
The guidance above refers providers to a range of government support for businesses.
Where the guidance above refers to the £1.6b made available to local authorities, the majority of these funds have been allocated to adult social care and to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. There is no allocated budget within Birmingham Children’s Trust specifically for Covid-19.
Further guidance for children’s social care elaborates that the £1.6b “should primarily be used to help Local Authorities address pressures arising from coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes funding to support children’s social care to secure additional placements should that be needed. Local authorities should prioritise, where possible, recruiting and developing their local fostering capacity to help meet demand.”
As announced at the start of the UK epidemic, absence due to sickness or self-isolation is being covered by central government. This is therefore not a cost which providers or local authorities should bear, and should not factor into additional payment requests. The Government’s rebate scheme allows small and medium-sized businesses not classified as public sector to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This refund will cover up to 2 weeks of SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because they have been ill with a suspected, or confirmed, case of virus or have had to self-isolate because of it. For this to apply, employers must maintain records of staff absences. Read more about the scheme
Testing for COVID-19
Testing for COVID-19- has also been made available by the Government, to all key workers, which includes social care workers.
This expansion of testing should assist in ensuring that frontline staff can return to work after a period of self-isolation.
Children in Care
Children in care are classed as a vulnerable group. The government has arranged for schools to remain open so that education provision can be maintained for Looked After Children.
Children in placement should be attending school during the COVID-19 period, unless advised otherwise by the child’s social worker and IRO. Read government guidance on maintaining educational provision
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
A range of resources, including where to purchase PPE, are available on our website.
Increased costs and additional funding
Where providers continue to experience an increase in costs, or require additional support to sustain a placement, the Trust will review each request on a case by case basis. This decision reflects the fact that the impact of COVID-19 varies between provisions and individual placements.
It is entirely reasonable that the Trust will ask providers for exact details about any increases in operating or additional costs due to the pandemic, and how this differs, to requirements within the existing contract, or their business continuity plans.
Additional funding will only be agreed when the Trust feels it is essential to maintain a safe placement. Providers must agree to review the additional costs monthly and to return to contract cost as soon as possible. The provider must also agree to an open-book policy, as per PPN02/20 of government guidance
Providers need to consider the following questions before making a funding request related to Covid-19:
- If your request relates to PPE, who has paid for any extra PPE that has been supplied to you?
- How many agency staff (if any) have you recruited during the pandemic period?
- How do you usually pay for agency staff and how is this factored into business as usual?
- Are you making use of any other Government funding and if so, you need to provide information with reference to government guidance on financial support to education, early years and children’s social care providers?
For any covid-related additional funding requests, please complete an Additional funding request form and email it to the Commissioning Team using the address listed on the form.
Please note that the Trust will claw back any funding where there it is found there is no justification, or if providers have claimed from multiple Local Authorities/Trusts for one staffing group and have therefore been doubly paid.
Other avenues of cash flow for providers may be considered. These could include faster or advance payment by Local Authorities to maintain cash flow. The provider could take action to redirect staffing or financial resource from non-essential activity to priority areas or they could look to surplus/profit to recover costs if possible.