Care England, has this week written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to call for care providers to be categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the upcoming 3-month review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, ensuring they continue to receive support for surging energy costs beyond the current 31 March 2023 deadline.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:
“The extreme vulnerability of the care sector in the wake of energy price rises is indisputable and plain for all to see. The Government must recognise the sector as such and do so immediately. Not only are care providers integral to the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable, but they play a crucial role in alleviating pressure on the NHS by offering a secure and cost-effective route for hospital discharges. Even with the support outlined in the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, the financial pressures facing providers are largely unsustainable, as they continue to face a three-to-four-fold increase on August 2021 energy prices. The ongoing crisis has come against a backdrop of wider, deep-rooted financial difficulties, such as those relating to workforce pressures and decades of chronic underfunding by Government. To withdraw the current measures of support in 6 months would be an immense oversight by the Government.”
Care England’s open letter to the Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), highlights that although the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme will provide much-needed reassurance to care services across the country in the short-term, more substantial Government support is needed to protect against increased costs.
The Government’s announcement of their relief scheme was caveated by the statement that only sectors considered ‘vulnerable’ at the 3-month review of the scheme will continue to benefit from Government support. While that term is yet to be defined, care providers are not currently considered as such and are facing the withdrawal of Government support. There is no indication that wholesale energy prices will substantially lower between now and 1 April 2023.
Care England’s call to action details the following asks to BEIS:
• The adult social care sector must be recognised as ‘vulnerable’ in the upcoming 3-month Energy Bill Relief Scheme review
• Zero-rate VAT for the care sector
• Security deposits and risk premiums need to be underwritten by energy providers benefitting from wholesale rates
• £400 energy bill discount applied to those in receipt of care
• National voltage regulation
• Cease unnecessary burning of coal
• Assess the one-price energy pricing system
• Waive penalty charges
• Support package for alternative energy sources
Martin Green continues:
“The vulnerability of the adult social care sector is not in doubt. The current relief scheme is simply papering over the cracks of deeper-rooted issues. It is incumbent upon the new Government to finally deliver a long-term strategy to secure the financial sustainability of the sector, using the extension of current measures as a first step in a series of much-needed reforms. Until this commitment is made, Care England is recommending that all care providers, who are currently on a variable rate, consider signing up to new contracts if they wish to be protected by the cap up to 31 March 2023. In the last 48hrs, leaks in the Nord Stream gas supply to mainland Europe have had a further impact on energy prices in England and caused energy providers to remove offers from the market which could put smaller care providers at risk of variable rate increase exposure beyond the current cap protection available under the relief scheme, if not reinstated. This serves as a reminder of the dangers currently facing the sector and the necessity of swift Government action to ensure continued support beyond the current deadline.”