THE sick pay enhancement scheme for social care workers in Wales that has been in place during the Covid-19 pandemic will end next week.

The Welsh Government has announced that the Covid-19 Statutory Sick Pay Enhancement scheme will end on August 31. It has provided £8.2 million of financial support to the social care workforce between November 2020 and June this year.

The scheme allowed social care workers to receive full pay while they were required to stay at home, self-isolating after contracting the virus, which the Welsh Government said has been an ‘important support to the social care workforce and to infection prevention for some of our most vulnerable citizens through the heights of the pandemic.’

In a joint statement, Eluned Morgan and Julie Morgan – minister for health and social services and deputy minister for social services respectively – said: “As we begin our transition from a period of pandemic emergency response to recovery, it is appropriate we bring this temporary scheme to an end.

“Consequential funding from the UK Government for the covid response has ceased.

“We will continue to look at how best we can promote greater occupational sick pay in the independent social care sector.”

In the statement, the ministers refer to recent ONS data from a coronavirus infection survey which suggests the prevalence of covid-19 in the community is decreasing.

A total of 1.4 million people in private households across the UK are estimated to have had the coronavirus in the week to August 16, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is a drop of 16% from 1.7 million the previous week.

Infections hit 3.8 million in early July during the spread of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the virus, but have fallen in recent weeks.

Health experts have warned levels are likely to rise again in the autumn and winter, however.

In Wales, infections stood at 65,500 in the latest week, or one in 45 people, compared with 72,600, or one in 40, in the previous survey.

Some 1.2 million people in England were likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to August 16, the equivalent of around one in 45 while in Scotland latest estimate for people testing positive is 135,000, or around one in 40, down from 164,100, or one in 30.

In Northern Ireland, infections were estimated to be 26,400, or one in 70 people, down from 36,600, or one in 50.

“We are reviewing the asymptomatic testing of social care staff, and we will make an announcement shortly,” said the ministers.

Currently, frontline social care staff and care home residents are being prioritised for the autumn booster of the covid vaccine. This will be rolled out from the beginning of September and will provide more protection for the staff and the most vulnerable citizens.