Government must focus on how Brexit affects the voluntary social care sector
Brexit will undermine support for disabled people unless the government shores up the voluntary social care sector, according to a new report.
Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), representing leading not-for-profit disability support providers, has issued Risks and rights: how social care can survive Brexit. The report illustrates the negative consequences for social care once Britain leaves the EU, such as a loss of EU care workers. It also suggests practical solutions to avoid further instability in the sector.
The report calls for government to urgently focus on the issue, given that the exit from the EU coincides with an existing crisis in social care. VODG, a member of the Cavendish Coalition which lobbies on Brexit-related workforce issues, recently warned of the fragile state of social care funding in its True Costs report. According to the Care Quality Commission, the sector is at ‘full stretch’ in terms of funding.
Today’s new analysis from VODG outlines how Brexit raises a number of concerns for voluntary sector providers of adult social care, including:
- the impact on the sector’s ability to recruit and retain staff (some 90,000 people from EU countries work in adult social care)
- the potential for economic downturn and its impact both on the funding of adult social and on the sector’s cost base
- loss of funding from and partnership opportunities with the EU
- the rights of disabled people, as many disability rights originate in EU law
- the potential for Brexit to distract from the need to reform the adult social care funding system, and make it sustainable.
VODG also sets out solutions to these challenges, recommending that government:
- safeguard the supply of health and social care workers needed to continue delivering safe, high quality care
- work with the relevant bodies to develop a strong, sustainable plan for how the sector can respond to Brexit
- analyse how losing of EU funding affects voluntary sector services
- give assurances that Brexit will not mean that reform of adult social care funding is abandoned.
VODG chief executive Rhidian Hughes said: “Social care is already under enormous pressure, so the fresh challenges created by Brexit demand full and focused attention. Since the decision to leave the EU, VODG has consistently lobbied government and has monitored the risks and consequences for the sector. Now we need firm assurances from government that social care remains on its radar. The government must work with us before and after Brexit to safeguard the sector’s future; we have to ensure that support for disabled people is not undermined.”