Cash-strapped social care firms forced to close
Private social care companies are being forced to close because they are not being paid enough by local authorities.
An investigation by the BBC's Panorama found that as many as one in four private providers in England is at risk of insolvency, while 69 companies have closed in the last three months alone.
Among the difficulties facing the sector is recruitment and retention of staff, with an estimate that England alone will need another two million carers by 2025 to meet soaring demand.
Chancellor Philip Hammond set aside an extra £2bn over the next three years for social care in last week's Budget, but critics argue it is not enough money.
However ministers have also made clear they intend to bring forward proposals for a longer term solution to funding social care later this year.
In one case highlighted by Panorama, Liverpool city council was paying a firm £13.10 an hour to provide care, below the £15 the company said it needed just to break even.
Items such as pension contributions, training and employer's National Insurance all add to the cost base for the sector.
The United Kingdom Homecare Association said many of its members were becoming "desperate" about their situation.
Policy and campaigns director Colin Angel said some firms "really do not know whether they're going to be able to continue in business, beyond the next year".
Saga UK has responded to the revelation, saying: "More creative solutions are needed and public and private money is going to be needed to improve the system. The Government can help by enabling more families to pay for care; by enabling people to save tax free for care – allowing tax free withdrawals from pension savings, by making it easier for people to look after their own family either by paying for care for them and making it tax deductible, or giving other incentives to people to take time off to care for their loved one themselves." Read the full response here.