© Crown copyright 2021
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-social-care-rapid-testing-fund/local-authority-circular-adult-social-care-rapid-testing-fund
On 2 December, visitor testing began in the first care homes with the government sending out millions of lateral flow device (LFD) tests to care homes over the course of December.
Following this, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) released guidance on the use of lateral flow device tests for visitors and visiting professionals to care homes. Further guidance for care homes on enhanced staff testing using LFD tests was published, to help further reduce the spread of COVID-19 in these settings.
On 23 December, the government announced an extra £149 million to support the rollout of LFD testing in care homes.
The main purpose of this funding is to support additional rapid testing of staff in care homes, and to support visiting professionals and enable indoors, close contact visiting where possible. This includes adult social care providers with whom the local authority does not have a contract.
This is a new grant, with separate conditions to the original Infection Control Fund (which ran from May to September 2020) and the extension to the Infection Control Fund (which runs from October 2020 to March 2021). This additional funding will provide further help to protect residents and workers from COVID-19 and brings the total ringfenced funding for care settings to £1.3 billion.
This new funding will be paid as a section 31 grant ring fenced exclusively for actions which support care homes to implement additional rapid testing.
This document is accompanied by 3 annexes (and accompanying guidance) which among other things set out the conditions upon which the grant is paid and the local authorities to whom it will be paid:
From 1 January, the government is no longer bound by the EU state aid rules. Public authorities should familiarise themselves with the guidance published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 31 December on complying with the UK’s international obligations on subsidy control.
DHSC considers that this grant, and the measures it is intended to support as specified in paragraph 2 of Annex C are consistent with the UK’s international obligations on subsidy control. This is because the measures will help detect COVID-19, hence reducing its incidence and spread, and are over and above that which care providers would normally be expected to provide.
Due to their potential to limit the transmission of COVID-19 and therefore prevent loss of life, these measures are of particular importance to care users, workers and their families, as well as being in the general public interest. Furthermore, without intervention they would not be provided by the market at the level or quality required, and thus to secure their provision, compensation needs to be provided to incentivise an undertaking or set of undertakings.
The measures that can be compensated under the 80% and 20% funding split are detailed in Annex C.
2. The grant
This grant will be paid in a single instalment in January 2021.
This grant covers the period from 2 December 2020 to 31 March 2021. All funding must be spent by its conclusion on 31 March, and any funding that remains unspent at this point will need to be returned to DHSC. We are clear that ‘spent’ means that expenditure has been incurred between 2 December 2020 and 31 March 2021.
Pursuant to section 31(4) of the Local Government Act 2003 the Secretary of State has attached conditions to the payment of the grant, which are set out in Annex C.
All funding must be used for the measures outlined. Local authorities should pass 80% of the funding to care homes within the local authority’s geographical area on a ‘per beds’ basis, including to care homes with whom the local authority does not have existing contracts. The local authority has discretion to use the remaining 20% of funding to support the care sector to operationally deliver LFD testing.
No payments should be made unless certain conditions are met, including the local authority being satisfied that the funding will be used for the measures outlined and the conditions stipulated in Annex A and Annex C. Clawback provisions apply to this fund including that the provider must repay any amounts not used for the measures outlined.
All eligible local authorities will be paid this funding in January 2021, according to the distributions set out in Annex B. DHSC expects local authorities to transfer the first instalment to providers within 10 working days, subject to providers meeting the conditions set out in Annex C.
In accordance with the requirements of the Infection Control Fund 2, in order to receive funding, care homes will be required to adhere to the following requirements for the duration of the fund (until 31 March 2021):
be completing the Capacity Tracker regularly (at least weekly)
has committed to continuing to complete the Capacity Tracker regularly (at least weekly) for the duration of the grant
have committed to providing the local authority with monthly reports on their spending against this grant
Care homes in receipt of LFD tests are required to register the results of all tests as per the care home testing guidance for staff and residents, or visitors and visiting professionals.
Distribution of funding
Allocations of funding per local authority are attached at Annex B. Local authorities should prioritise passing on the 80% ‘per bed’ allocation to care homes within their geographical area. DHSC’s expectation is that this should take no longer than ten working days from receipt of the funding in a local authority.
DHSC’s expectation is that the grant will be spent in its entirety by 31 March 2021.
If at 31 March 2021 there is any underspend or DHSC is not convinced that the fund has been spent according to the grant conditions outlined in the Grant Determination, the Secretary of State may reduce, suspend or withhold grant payments or require the repayment of the whole or any part of the grant monies paid, as may be determined by the Secretary of State and in writing to the authority. However, DHSC will only look to recover funding where there is clear and obvious evidence that the fund has not been used in accordance with the grant conditions.
Local authorities must distribute the money in line with this document and are required to provide monthly returns covering the information set out in Annex E of the Infection Control Fund 2 and return it by the dates below. Care homes will need to provide this information at least one week prior to DHSC’s deadline (or as indicated by their local authority) to the following timetable:
ICF2 reporting point 4: 26 February 2021
ICF2 reporting point 5: 31 March 2021
ICF2 reporting point 6: 30 April 2021
Care homes are also required to complete the Capacity Tracker at least once per week until 31 March 2021, and to commit to doing so for the duration of the grant.