A proposed uplift of up to 10% for social care providers to address rising demand and costs caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is wholly inadequate, according to the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), a national body representing more than 100 voluntary sector social care providers.
Guidance on funding for social care providers has today been published by the Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a joint statement, the LGA and ADASS suggest that costs for social care providers are likely to increase by in the region of 10% in April and that local authorities will need to consider how best to make additional payments, which could include directly meeting additional costs, uplifts to fees, or through support in kind. It also highlights that costs in learning disability services may be differently affected and require alternative local solutions.
The statement also aims to address concerns about sustainability and price, particularly around cost pressures such as higher dependency levels, higher staff sickness absence rates, higher administration costs due to greater volatility of support packages and personal protective equipment costs.
It follows the government announcement on March 19 that it would give £1.6bn emergency funding to local authorities to help cover additional pressures created by the coronavirus crisis.
The funds are intended to guide local authorities to continue to commission adult services and those new people who require support after being discharged from hospital. However, the statement recommends that any additional funding is temporary and will end when the emergency crisis finishes or is scaled down.
Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of VODG, said:
“Years of sustained political failure to address the lack of funding for the social care sector means that the system was in an already extremely precarious position before the coronavirus outbreak. The Prime Minister told the country that the government would do ‘whatever it takes’ to respond to Coronavirus. Sadly, these principles do not apply to essential social care services.
“While we recognise that local authorities have been left with a meagre budget, the suggestion that costs for social care providers will rise by in the region of 10% is inaccurate and does not reflect the current and continually rising costs of provision. Furthermore, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on social care providers and associated staffing pressures will continue long into the future.
“The statement is also concerning because it lacks clear direction and a mandate, without which there is the risk that local authorities may simply choose to ignore the guidance. Funding for learning disability and autism and other disability services also needs to be clarified without delay.
“Now more than ever we need strong local leadership to work hand in hand with the voluntary sector to ensure people in some of the most vulnerable circumstances are best supported at this time of great need.”