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Providers Facing ‘Worse Crisis than Covid’

The crippling cost of living crisis could pose a greater threat to the survival of care providers than the Covid-19 pandemic, campaigners warned today.

Care and nursing homes and homecare providers are battling to survive as utility and petrol costs rocket and severe staffing shortages hit care.

Provider organization The Independent Care Group (ICG) has written to the health secretary Steve Barclay calling for urgent support.

A survey of its members revealed that 96% had seen costs of things like energy and staff increase and 96% were finding it increasingly hard to run their business, with 81% fearing they would be unable to meet rising costs.

Some 93% have started making savings and of those surveyed, 81% were considering putting up prices to commissioners and private residents.

In the survey, 93% said they had suffered “significant” staff losses.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:

“Covid-19 posed a very real threat to the survival of many care providers but I genuinely fear the cost of living and staffing crises might be even more devastating.”

Care providers have endured a 683% increase in energy costs over the past year with the increase in cost for gas and electricity going from £660 per bed to £5,166, according to research by Box Power CIC and Care England.

The ICG has called on the secretary of state to include care and nursing homes in the price cap for energy prices. It has also called for people living in care settings to get utility bill rebates like other domestic customers.

As providers face a fight for survival, the ICG wants the Government to urgently move money from the Health and Social Care levy to support care and nursing homes and those providing domiciliary care and to better pay those working in the sector, to help tackle the staffing crisis.
Mr Padgham added: “I don’t think the Government understands the severity of the situation.

“We are in a full-blown crisis, where people are unable to have the care they need. That can mean when your mother or father needs someone to help them get up in the morning, or get dressed, cook a meal, or get to bed, that won’t happen.

“Or when a relative needs a room in a care home, then there won’t be any available.

“The Government must also appreciate that maintaining a strong social care sector is vital to maintaining an effective health service, as social care and NHS care have to work together – allowing one to wither will inevitably damage the other.”

In the letter to the secretary of state, Mr Padgham adds:
“The sector has seen its funding squeezed catastrophically in recent years and some owners of care and nursing homes and domiciliary care services have gone to the wall or come perilously close.

“The Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact and providers are already battling with an acute staffing crisis, which has added hugely to our costs.

“Now, on top of that historic under-funding, the massive impact of Covid-19 and the battle to fund the recruitment and retention of staff, we are facing nightmare gas, electric and petrol costs.

“My fear is that we will lose more providers at a time when we already have more than 1.6m people living without the care they need.
“I am therefore appealing to you to take urgent action on behalf of social care providers.

“It is vital that we get financial support for care providers.”