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Local government funding for adult social care services

09 April 2020

Social care has always been a key part of the overall world of care and health. It covers the personal care and practical support many people as a result of age or physical disability, a learning disability or mental illness require with their day-to-day living activities.

Now, more than ever, social care has a vital and important part to play in supporting whole communities in the fight against COVID-19 and keeping many different groups of vulnerable people safe.

Care providers are working hard to prepare for the escalation of COVID-19. This includes planning for how to keep going in the face of significant staff shortages, escalating costs in the purchase of PPE supplies and how to ensure the people they care for and their staff are kept safe and well.

For many people whose care and support is funded by the local authority, fees paid have not reflected the true cost of care for many years and this has contributed to increasing the fragility of the market and the threat to the continuation of vital services.

The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) today calls for urgent action by local councils following the publication of guidance to councils by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) on the funding arrangements for social care providers in England during COVID-19.

Many care providers are small family-run businesses operating on tight margins. The recent government announcements of additional financial support to businesses unfortunately does not benefit them in the same way as other businesses and escalating costs due to a combination of buying more essential PPE supplies at significantly inflated prices and ongoing costs related to staff sickness and absence continues to cause significant impact.

The recommendation of a 5% uplift to cover this year’s increase in National Living Wage (NLW) is insufficient to cover the true rise of 6.25% which providers are expected to pay. Furthermore, the proposed 10% increase for additional costs associated with COVID-19 is woefully inadequate to cover the significant costs care providers are incurring.

Lisa Lenton, Chair of the Care Provider Alliance says, “We welcome the efforts of local government leaders to agree a consistent increase in fees to be used by all councils in England, and the inclusion of the care sector in these discussions. However, the proposed funding arrangements are inadequate and there is no guarantee that individual councils will follow the guidance. We do not believe that there is a system in place to ensure that £1.6bn of public funds reaches front-line services. In addition, the guidance fails to address the question of how support can be provided to providers who are not currently funded via local authority contracts.”

Failure to recognise the very real increases in operating costs as a result of COVID-19 risks a substantial failure and collapse of care providers with a significant impact on people, councils and the NHS.

Ms Lenton continues, “Alongside NHS staff and other essential services, care professionals are ‘the front line’ workers providing care and support to keep safe the old, the frail and the vulnerable.

“Local government leaders have said they are willing to review the situation at the end of April, so that more evidence can be presented to HM Treasury. We will assist them with evidence from our research and we will continue to demand that councils increase the funding available to the care sector, so that it can maintain services and keep people safe during this pandemic.”

Note to Editors:

  • The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) brings together the 10 main national associations which represent independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England.  We work to represent the sector and ensure a coordinated response to the major issues that affect it.
  • The Care Provider Alliance is an informal body with a rotating chair. Membership is of the representative associations with a national membership across the whole of England. However, some CPA members also represent services in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
  • Together our members provide care and support to 1.2 million people through residential, home-based and community services, whether commissioned by local authorities and the NHS or privately purchased. Together our members employ over 620,000 care workers.
  • Our members’ services include residential and nursing care, homecare, supported living and extra care housing, shared lives schemes, advocacy and telephone helplines. They support children, adults of working age and older people. 
  • Adult social care covers social work, personal care and practical support for adults with physical disability, a learning disability, or physical or mental illness, as well as support for their carers. Demand for social care is growing as the numbers of older people and those with long-term conditions, learning disabilities and mental health conditions increase.
  • The average care provider is usually small family-run businesses operating on tight margins. Escalation in costs as a result of the additional pressures of COVID-19 has the potential to lead to the failure or collapse of care providers.
  • Adults with care needs are supported in two main ways: either formally through services they or their local authority pay for; or informally by family, friends and neighbours.
  • For more information on the Care Provider Alliance visit https://www.careprovideralliance.org.uk/
  • Media contact: Edna Petzen, edna.petzen@nationalcareforum.org.uk 07397 158596