Successive governments’ failure to properly fund social care is leaving millions of people at risk of losing vital support, according to new analysis of social care under-funding.
Ahead of the Autumn Budget, VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) has published True Costs: Why we cannot ignore the failure in social care funding.
The report is a stark warning to Government that the chronic under-funding of social care must be reversed. It pinpoints three key challenges faced by voluntary sector providers of adult social care, which mean that funding is insufficient. These are:
- Increasing demand for services.
- Rising costs of providing services.
- Workforce recruitment and retention problems.
VODG’s report stresses that demand for services is rising; by 2025 there will be 11.7 million disabled people in England. This group of people, representing more than 20% of our population, is also ageing, which means that more older people will need disability-specific support.
Action is vital as the need for support is growing just as funding for that support is dwindling. Since 2010, for example, cumulative adult social care savings have amounted to £6.3bn, according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. Voluntary sector providers are disproportionately affected by such budget cuts because the people they support are mainly publicly-funded.
In addition, staff turnover is high and increasing, at 31% in 2016 up from 25% in 2015. National figures show that in 2017, there were an estimated 90,000 vacancies across the sector at any given time.
The report acknowledges that adult social care has won some additional funding, but this is a drop in the ocean given the demand, rising costs and workforce issues.
In addition, there are other pressures on the sector like the increased National Living Wage (NLW), the retrospective requirement to provide NLW back pay to sleep-in shift workers for up to six years and Brexit, which has the potential to create much instability.
To create a strong, sustainable solution for social care, the report demands that Government must take decisive action, including:
- Identifying a long-term, sustainable funding solution particularly for working age adults.
- Dropping the retrospective action to recover mistaken underpayment of NLW for sleep-in shifts from some providers.
- Work with relevant bodies, VODG included, to develop a plan for a sustainable social care workforce.