Providers double up on handed-back contracts

The financial pressures crippling the social care sector could start to directly impact the vulnerable adults it supports, according to a report from learning disability charity HF Trust (HfT).

This shows that the number of providers handing back contracts in the past 12 months has more than doubled.

Independent research commissioned by Hft found that in 2018 more than half (59 per cent) of providers had been forced to close down some parts of their organisation or hand back contracts to local authorities as a means of dealing with cost pressures. A further 68 per cent envisaged having to do the same “in the near future” while 11 per cent foresaw a reduction in the quality of care if their financial situation did not improve.  This would suggest that vulnerable adults supported by the sector may soon start to be directly affected by the funding pressures.

The survey also found that recruitment remains a challenge with 80 per cent of providers reporting low wages as the biggest barrier to recruiting and retaining staff. In the last year, the number of providers citing the increased cost of agency workers as one of the main cost pressures facing their organisation, has rocketed from 13 per cent to 63 per cent. It comes second only to rising wage bills – as providers struggle to fill staff vacancies, in turn affecting the continuity of support they are able to provide.

The research is Hft’s second annual Sector Pulse Check report, carried out by independent economics and business consultancy Cebr, and is the first of its kind to focus primarily on learning disability providers. Based on survey analysis from social care providers, it provides an annual snapshot of the financial health of the social care sector over the past year and an indication of how providers anticipate the next twelve months will progress.

The report also highlighted that:

  • In response to the ongoing recruitment challenge more than three-quarters (78%) of providers have increased the amount of resource they allocated to their recruitment efforts over the past year, with two-thirds (67%) of these running a dedicated recruitment campaign to help reduce staff vacancies.
  • Only 4% of providers have completed their preparations for Brexit, while a further 28% have either not yet started or were less prepared than last year.
  • There is a lack of confidence in the government to resolve the sleep-in crisis with the majority of the sector (72%) stating they did not believe that this year would see a decisive end to the issue.

Hft public affairs and policy manager Billy Davis said: “This year’s sector pulse check is a red flag for the future of social care. With repeated calls for a sustainable funding solution going unheeded, we are now seeing the true cost of government inaction on providers.  

“The underfunding of social care is a national crisis that requires a national solution. With the green paper on social care now long overdue, we call on the government to urgently address the issues facing the sector, before it affects some of the most vulnerable adults in our society.”    

 

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