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Steve Veevers, Chief Executive of Hft.

Unsustainable financial and workforce pressures are forcing adult social care providers to turn down new admissions and close services, as government grants are not reaching the people who need them most.

This is according to the 2023 Sector Pulse Check report, independent research commissioned by learning disability charity Hft and Care England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care in England.

The report, based on a large-scale survey of adult social care providers, finds that despite a £7.5bn funding boost in the 2022 Autumn Statement, there has been little progress in the key challenges facing the sector. In fact, the situation is arguably more perilous than ever.

Energy cost increases of up to 350% and unfunded rises in the National Living Wage left 40% of adult social care providers in deficit in 2023. This is particularly concerning when 84% of care providers said that recent funding initiatives from Government – such as the Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund and International Recruitment Fund – made no difference to the financial sustainability of their organisation over the past year.

The inevitable result has been a reduced capacity to deliver care across providers, as:

•43% closed services or handed back contracts

•18% offered care to fewer people

•39% considered exiting the market altogether

These financial challenges are compounded by a deep-rooted and systematic crisis in the workforce. Despite a rise in international recruitment, staffing shortages remain widespread. Nearly half (44%) of organisations had to turn down admissions due to a lack of staff.

The findings are a clear indication that the current approach to adult social care funding simply isn’t working. The recent tightening of immigration rules for overseas care staff and a growing concern about the dire state of local government finances only serve to add to the distress surrounding the future of the adult social care sector.

Hft and Care England call on the government to implement immediate measures to support the care sector – including improving commissioning practice, revising VAT arrangements and removing barriers to ethical international recruitment.

“It is difficult to offer words of hope and motivation when the past 12 months have seen the adult social care sector engulfed in a sustained state of crisis,” said Steve Veevers, Chief Executive of Hft.

“The upcoming General Election provides the new Government with a perfect opportunity to address what is a key challenge for today’s society but one which nobody seems to be taking seriously enough.

“Our report provides several realistic, practical and impactful suggestions – including reforming VAT, revisiting the new visa laws for international workers and establishment of national commissioning standards - which we shouldn’t delay in implementing if we want to see real change from the next Government.”

To read the full report, clickhere. 

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