According to independent research commissioned by Hft, a national charity supporting adults with learning disabilities, one in five organisations reported offering care to fewer individuals last year as a means of balancing the books (a rise of 12% from 2018), with 95% citing rising wage bills as the main drain on resources.
A third (33%) of providers said they had to shed staff in the past year, while 45% have closed down some parts of the organisation and/or handed back contracts, with 52% expected to have to do so in the future.
Billy Davis, public affairs and policy manager for Hft, said: ‘As our Sector Pulse report shows, the sad reality is that the social care sector has run out of options.
‘While in the previous report providers were focusing on streamlining through internal efficiency savings, we can now clearly see that cuts are affecting people, not just processes.
‘The lack of a sustainable cash injection for the sector has seen providers resorting to offering care to fewer people to manage spiralling costs at a time when demand for social care is widely acknowledged to be growing.
‘The fact that providers are now having to take what they reported to be their least favoured cost-cutting measures illustrates that these decisions are not being taken lightly.
‘A lack of alternatives has left providers with no choice but to make decisions culturally at odds with the way they want to run their organisations, such as handing back services and, ironically, shedding staff in the midst of a sector-wide recruitment crisis.
‘Given the fragility of the social care sector, there’s never been a more important time to hear the views of the organisations providing care for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
‘This report is an opportunity to hear the collective voices on the issues facing the sector and we must listen. It’s clear that at its heart social care funding is, and continues to remain, a national issue that requires a national solution.’
The research is Hft’s third annual Sector Pulse Check report, carried out by independent economics and business consultancy Cebr, and was the first of its kind to focus primarily on learning disability providers.
Based on survey analysis from social care providers, it provides an annual snapshot of the financial health of the social care sector over the past year and an indication of how providers anticipate the next twelve months will progress.
In last year’s report, 11% of providers warned further cuts in funding could lead to a reduction in the quality of care.
This year, 43% of providers said that they had witnessed a negative effect on the quality of care they were able to provide, citing an increase in complaints, worsening CQC ratings and a decrease in morale as the most severe indicators of a decline in standards.
Hft is now calling for the Department for Health and Social Care to bring forward their long-overdue proposals on reforms for the long-term future funding of adult social care.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Everyone should have access to the best quality, compassionate care and we are providing councils with access to an additional £1.5 billion in 2020-21 to meet rising demand and continue to stabilise the social care system.
‘There are complex questions to address, which is why we will seek to build a cross-party consensus. But as the Prime Minister has said, we will deliver on our promises and bring forward a plan for social care this year.’
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