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Specialist provider warns that further cuts will compromise care

March 7, 2019

A report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by specialist care provider Hft, offers an annual snapshot of the financial health of the social care sector, how the sector has reacted to the events of the past 12 months, and provides an insight into how providers anticipate the next 12 months will progress. The report’s executive summary makes the following findings:

• While rising wage bills continues to be the biggest cost pressure faced by the sector, there has been a 50 percentage point increase in the number of organisations reporting agency fees as a major financial pressure.

• More than half (59%) of providers have begun to hand back contracts to local authorities as a way of responding to funding pressures, compared to 25% in 2017. Looking forward, 68% said that they envisage having to hand back contracts “in the near future” if their financial situation does not improve.

• Providers have predicted that continued funding cuts could begin to directly have a negative impact on those vulnerable adults supported by the sector.

• Recruitment remains an ongoing challenge. Eighty per cent of providers cite low wages as the biggest barrier to recruiting and retaining staff.

• More than three-quarters (78%) of providers increased the amount of resource they allocated to their recruitment efforts over the past year, with two-thirds (67%) of these running dedicated recruitment campaigns to help reduce staff vacancies.

• Despite the Court of Appeal ruling in favour of Mencap in July 2018, the majority of the sector does not believe that 2019 will see a decisive end to the issue of payment for ‘sleep-in’ shifts.

• With just 4% of the sector claiming they have completed all of their preparations, the social care sector remains particularly exposed to Brexit – particularly one that is highly disruptive.

• Many respondents are eagerly awaiting the publication of the social care green paper. They also raised concerns over decreasing central and local government funding for the sector, and the negative impact this is having on staff and those supported by the sector.

“Ultimately, it is the vulnerable adults supported by the sector that will bear the burden of any crisis within social care,” said Hft chief executive Robert Longley-Cook.

“For the first time, providers are telling us that they are concerned that future funding cuts will lead to a deterioration in the care and support that they provide. This is something that governments and local authorities must urgently listen to.

“2018 was a year bookended by the delays to the Government’s long-overdue social care green paper. Let 2019 be the year that social care gets the attention that it deserves.There is a worry that Brexit will absorb all political bandwidth in the year ahead. We call on the Government not to be distracted and give the social care sector the sustainable funding solution it desperately needs. We hope the findings of our Sector Pulse Check will help to spur them in to action and inform their proposals.”

– The Sector Pulse Check can be downloaded at: https://www.hft.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Hft-Sector-Pulse-Check-2018.pdf

Robert Longley-Cook

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