Call for firm target for care reform
Campaigners say the Chancellor has today missed a vital opportunity to throw a lifeline to crisis-hit care providers amidst fears that the country could be heading into a second wave of coronavirus.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) had called on the Government to announce more financial aid for care providers in today’s mini budget.
But despite announcing vital aid for jobs, housing, tourism and the hospitality sector, there was no major new support for those caring for older and vulnerable people during coronavirus.
Today the ICG said the lack of budget support intensified the need for a target date to be set for long-delayed reform of the sector to safeguard its future.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Today’s measures announced by the Chancellor are very welcome for many sectors, in particular for creating and protecting jobs.
“But the fight against coronavirus continues in social care settings and there is a very real danger of a second wave for the country to face.
“Sadly today, aside from extending the cut in VAT on personal protective equipment (PPE), there was very little extra support for providers who are being pushed close to the edge of survival at this critical moment.
“It further intensifies our call for urgent reform of the social care sector to take place straight away. We need a firm target date and a timetable for reform and we need it now.”
Rocketing costs from buying personal protective equipment (PPE) and extra staffing costs have hit care and nursing homes hard at a time when admissions are falling. Age UK has warned that as many as 20,000 care homes could go out of business without urgent extra support.
Local authorities have been given £3.2bn by the government to support all of their extra work during the pandemic but little of that has found its way to the frontline. And there is a £600m infection-control fund for care, nursing homes and other social care provision. But estimates suggest that care providers will face additional costs of £6.6bn between April and September.
“The pandemic has left many providers in financial crisis and we have already seen some fail and close,” Mr Padgham added. “We need to see some urgent action and we need to see it now, before the loss of care providers means we can no longer meet demand.”
The ICG had called on the Chancellor to help by making social care providers zero-rated for VAT, providing an instant financial saving. Care providers pay VAT for goods and services but cannot charge VAT themselves, to offset some of those costs. Making social care providers zero-rated for VAT would provide a much-needed boost to providers.