New chance to tackle crisis in social care must not be missed

The House of Commons debate on adult social care is a much-needed opportunity to focus on shoring up the nation’s fragile care and support system.

Ahead of the opposition day debate on Wednesday 25th October about social care VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, the national body representing leading not-for-profit disability support providers) warns that government has yet to deliver a firm strategy for social care.

VODG has long voiced concerns about how successive governments have failed to adequately fund the sector. A recent VODG report described how millions of people may lose support. True Costs: Why we cannot ignore the failure in social care funding outlines challenges faced by voluntary sector providers of adult social care:

  • increasing demand for services
  • rising costs of providing services
  • workforce recruitment and retention problems.

Meanwhile adult social care savings have totalled £6.3bn since 2010, according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. Additional funding such as the Improved Better Care Fund and the Adult Social Care Precept are inadequate. Other pressures include the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) and Brexit, which has the potential to create much instability (90,000 or 7% of adult social care jobs in England are filled by EU workers).

In addition, the retrospective requirement to provide national minimum/living wage back-pay to sleep-in shift workers for up to six years would ruin many providers, says VODG. Despite the government extending the suspension of minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector, many significant concerns remain.

VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said:

“We’re on the cusp of what feels like a perfect storm for adult social care and VODG is frustrated at the absence of a permanent solution to guarantee our sector’s future. Social care is struggling with year on year reductions in funding alongside other worrying developments such as the impact of Brexit and the threat of a huge back pay bill for organisations providing vital sleep-support.

For voluntary sector care providers, the impact of budget cuts is greater because the majority of people we help are publicly funded. We need a firm, forward-thinking strategy to protect social care and those who rely on it.”