Essex County Council is set to spend £2.5 million to help care homes tackle acute staffing shortages.

The council will spend £100 on each bed which its commissions.

The decision to make this spend has come amid heightened fears that the care sector is struggling.

The cash package has been described as "urgent" and the council has said that arrangements need to be put in place quickly "to support care providers who are experiencing a challenging time."

A council forward plan decision statement read: "The decision relates to the award of money to care homes to help them deal with the current staffing difficulties they are experiencing.

"It is proposed to pay all care homes from which ECC commissions care a sum of £100 per bed.

"This is likely to cost around £2.5m.

"Payment will be subject to compliance with the terms of a grant agreement which will require the money to be spent on specified activities or returned to ECC."

The National Care Association has said that following the challenges of Covid-19, the care sector continues to battle issues on a number of fronts.

It says Brexit and the ongoing implications of the pandemic, such as mandatory vaccinations, have contributed to severe staff shortages, leading to care home operators having to manage an increasingly strained workforce while ensuring compliance with the regulator's requirements.

It adds that nationally, social care needs 120,000 extra staff to end the shortage and has called on the government to issue temporary visas to stabilise the market.

The NCA wrote on social media: "Let's get temporary visas for the migrant workforce who left post-Brexit or due to Covid and got lost in the system.

"We need them now."

ECC recently committed to improving pay for its care workers after its social care director, Nick Presmeg, raised concerns about the sector's "sustainability".

Mr Presmeg said: "The care market is very stressed and stretched - you can earn more money picking pears than you can providing domiciliary care."

Councillor John Spence, ECC cabinet member for social care, said he is seeking funding in next year's budget for a care worker pay-rise.