Bullish tactics by HMRC will not resolve the sleep in crisis says VODG

The tactics being taken by Government’s revenue agency HMRC is taking a spectacular new turn in dealing with the sleep in crisis says VODG the group that represents disability charities.

Government’s recent announcement of a new Social Care Compliance Scheme raised more questions than answers. The lack of clarity has prompted VODG and other agencies to work together to compile a consolidated list of questions and concerns which have been shared with HMRC and other Government officials in writing.

This scheme and the lack of clarity on key issues has strengthened employers concerns that Government has failed to step in and fund the long-running sleep in crisis.

Now in the latest turn of events the leaders of charities and their trustees are receiving ultimatum letters from HMRC. There are variations to the letters but all introduce the Social Care Compliance Scheme and ‘invite’ the organisation to join. Some demand a telephone call with the recipient on a fixed date and time. So far all of the letters received give just 30 days to decide whether to take part in the scheme.

VODG chair Steve Scown said:

“There are too many unresolved questions for providers to make an informed decision as to whether to join Government’s compliance scheme. In the absence of answers, and funding to cover the back pay bill, HMRC’s approach and the timeframe they are imposing is unhelpful to a sector that is at full stretch financially.”

While the chief executive of a disability charity, who wished to remain anonymous, said:

“This appears to be a concerted and planned campaign by government to undermine the sector when a constructive not punitive approach is needed. At a time when we need more funding for social care, the sector is instead being hammered by the HRMC intent on taking away resources from the sector. As a charity working with thousands of people we are deeply concerned about the impact to services such as care and support for elderly relatives, families already struggling with disabled children and young disabled adults who may not only lose their services but the charities who have supported them over many years. The public should know that the very services who support them are being pulled apart. I am concerned and dismayed that our sector is being treated in this way.”

VODG is working with other sector bodies including Association for Real Change, Care England and Learning Disability Voices to demand that Government funds the mistaken back pay.

VODG chief executive Rhidian Hughes said:

“The unspoken cost pressures on social care employers continue to mount as Government drags on the sleep in crisis. The Treasury must find the money to remedy this situation to enable local authorities to contract with providers at a level that covers the full cost of legal requirements. The long-term chronic under-funding of social care must be reversed and we demand the Chancellor takes action in the Autumn Statement.”