The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) hasccalled for urgent action by local councils following the publication of guidance to councils by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) on the funding arrangements for social care providers in England during COVID-19.
Fee rates paid by local authorities have not reflected the true cost of care for many years and this has contributed to increasing the fragility of the social care market, which is needed more than ever during COVID-19.
The recommendation of a 5% uplift to cover this year’s increase in National Living Wage (NLW) is insufficient to cover the true rise of 6.25% which providers are expected to pay. Furthermore, the proposed 10% increase for additional costs associated with COVID-19 is woefully inadequate to cover the significant costs care providers are incurring.
Government’s recent announcements of additional financial support to businesses at risk of financial failure during COVID-19 are unlikely to support social care providers in the same way as other businesses. Many care providers have experienced dramatic cost increases, due to a combination of buying more essential PPE supplies at significantly inflated prices and ongoing costs related to staff sickness and absence.
Lisa Lenton, Chair of the Care Provider Alliance says, “We welcome the efforts of local government leaders to agree a consistent increase in fees to be used by all councils in England, and the inclusion of the care sector in these discussions. However, the proposed funding arrangements are inadequate and there is no guarantee that individual councils will follow the guidance. We do not believe that there is a system in place to ensure that £1.6bn of public funds reaches front-line services. In addition, the guidance fails to address the question of how support can be provided to providers who are not currently funded via local authority contracts.
“Failure to recognise the very real increases in operating costs as a result of COVID-19 risks a substantial failure and collapse of care providers with a significant impact on people, councils and the NHS.”
In a recent consultation with care providers across the sector, evidence gathered by the CPA shows very clearly that the levels of increases in operating costs across care providers, both home care and residential care services, is much greater than 15%.
Ms Lenton continues, “Local government leaders have said they are willing to review the situation at the end of April, so that more evidence can be presented to HM Treasury. We will assist them with evidence from our research and we will continue to demand that councils increase the funding available to the care sector, so that it can maintain services and keep people safe during this pandemic.”