Coronavirus: care homes will ‘go to the wall’ without extra government help, chiefs warn
Labour said the report showed how Covid-19 had ‘ brutally exposed fundamental problems with our social care system’. (PA)
Social care providers will go under unless “significant” extra funding is given to local authorities struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis, a new report has warned.
A survey of 154 local authorities carried out by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) found that just one in 25 providers of adult social care services believe they now have enough money to meet their basic statutory duties.
Adass has already warned that the sector is now facing £6.6bn in additional costs as a result of the pandemic.
The Government has so far given councils an extra £3.2bn in response to Covid-19, with an additional £600m earmarked for infection control in care setting.
But the report warns that increased spending on personal protective equipment, staffing costs, sickness cover and deep cleaning risks pushing some private providers out of business altogether.
Adass is pressing ministers for a two-year, ring-fenced funding package for adult social care, as well as reforms to the sector to improve the pay and conditions of those working in it.
Launching the findings, Adass President James Bullion said: “Urgent action is needed to plug the financial black hole that has been blown in local government finances, to properly recognise and reward colleagues working in social care, stabilise providers of care and most importantly safeguard and ultimately enhance the care and support available to those of us who need it.”
He added: “Without such action, local authorities will run out of money, care providers will go to the wall, many of us will not get the care and support we need, and the economy will take a further hit as more of us are forced to give up work to fill the caring gaps.
"Prioritising social care is the right thing to do morally, ethically, economically and politically. We must act now, for all our sakes.”
That view was echoed by the NHS Confederation, which represents providers in the hospital sector.
Director Dr Layla McCay said: “The Government promised that it would give care homes and other services everything they need to get through coronavirus and this report shows that it has failed.
“Not only are providers struggling to make ends meet, only 4% of the adult social care directors surveyed were confident that they have enough money to meet their legal responsibilities – down from 35% last year. This should serve as a chilling reminder of the need to drastically overhaul how social care is funded and supported in England.”
And the Local Government Association, the umbrella group for councils, added: “We have been calling for a sustainable funding settlement for adult social care since long before the current crisis, and look forward to when the cross-party talks on the future of social care and how we pay for it can begin.
"This must also include critical decisions on the workforce such as pay, recruitment and career development.”
Seizing on the findings, Labour said Covid-19 had “brutally exposed fundamental problems with our social care system”.
Shadow care minister Liz Kendall added: “Local councils do not have the resources they need to give care workers the salary they deserve, and many are desperately worried they won’t be able to meet the needs of older and disabled people over the next year.
“Piecemeal funding announcements have not given councils the money they need to cope with the costs of the pandemic, let alone the long-term financial security they need.”