• Kate Allen, Autism at Kingwood CE provides our news update

    It’s that dark time of year again…. and I’m not just referring to the clocks going back this weekend (although do take that as a helpful reminder!)

    It was the budget and Spending Review announcement this week and, although I am grateful for the £4.8bn funding to health and social care over the next three years, I am disappointed that no funds have been ‘ringfenced’ to social care. I worry greatly that health care will yet again swallow up the funding.

    However, on a really positive note, Autism at Kingwood welcomes the National Living Wage increase to £9.50 per hour from next April. This will assist our entry level support workers greatly, and impact positively throughout our support staff structure, at a time when all employees will be paying increased National Insurance contributions and experiencing higher inflation. Also of good news was the softened approach to proposed changes on Universal Credit. Introducing a taper rate will ease the impact of withdrawing the Covid support payments and benefit those working families.

    As commissioners of social care, we wait to hear how local authorities will cover all the costs, given the demands placed on them.

    Autism at Kingwood has been campaigning Government to ensure support workers receive a minimum of £9.50 per hour through the #BetterPay4SocialCare petition, which we initiated a year ago. It became been hugely successful with 4,500 social care organisations supporting the campaign.  We reached our core objective of reaching £10,000 petition signatures on 8th October and on 13th October, Rishi Sunak received the petition from us, for consideration in this week’s budget

    The campaign and petition still lives, as the partnership focuses on ensuring local authorities are able to pay commissioned providers like us, the additional costs that will be incurred from next April.

    Outside of the budget – and greatly welcomed – is the Government’s announcement to distribute £162.5m to local authorities, specifically to support adult social care providers with recruitment.  Recruitment is a challenge throughout the sector, as Brexit has taken its toll and salaries outside the sector have increased.  Working alongside this recruitment initiative, we will be proactive in encouraging people to consider a rewarding career with Kingwood. Word of mouth remains the most successful way for people to find out more about working with us and we are reviewing our incentive schemes available for families and staff who successfully recommend a new employee. If you have ideas on what would be an attractive incentive to you, please do contact us at supportercare@kingwood.org.uk to share your thoughts.

    In my last update on 1st October, I mentioned that the Board of Trustees had approved our accounts and the annual report for the period April 2020 to 2021. I am delighted to share that report with you, which you can read here.  I hope you agree that it provides a great overview of what was undoubtedly a difficult year, but it also depicts some of the fun and light-hearted moments of the period, and illustrates the commitment, creativity and kindness of our staff.

    The 3rd year of the Autism at Kingwood Career Development Programme starts in November with 15 successful applicants forming the largest cohort we have ever had. The CDP has had proven success, enabling eager support workers to progress their career within the organisation, where we deliver workshops on values, risk management, leadership styles and finance. I’m really looking forward to working with our next group of individuals.

    My fingers are crossed for tonight, when the national Learning Disability and Autism Awards take place. As many of you know, our Windrush House is a finalist for the ‘Great Autism Practice’ awards – a testament to the commitment and care of our staff, who set the service up just last year.

    And finally, I am pleased to report that there have been no new COVID-19 cases amongst the people we support and our frontline staff over the last two weeks.

    Wishing you all a pleasant weekend. Don’t forget those clocks!

    Kate

    Philippa Stannard

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