Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Charity calls on new PM to provide a realistic financial package for the social sector

Addressing the unprecedented cost-of-living crisis facing people with learning disabilities should not simply be a sticking plaster, but must provide a realistic financial support package to enable people to live secure and fulfilled lives in the long term.

“Liz Truss, the new leader of the Conservative Party, begins her role as Prime Minister tomorrow, and with it, takes on the responsibility of tackling a serious cost-of-living crisis that will particularly impact people with a learning disability, as well as social care providers and staff. We urge her to acknowledge the reality faced by many people with a learning disability, says Amanda Bunce, Chairman of Trustees at national learning disability charity Hft.

“Everyone is feeling the strain at present but, combined with the rising cost of food and fuel, people with a learning disability face additional costs of around £538 per month to pay for essentials such as charging electric wheelchairs or communication devices, or to keep the house warm to stay healthy,” says Ms Bunce.

Providers of support for people with a learning disability, like Hft, are also anticipating eye-watering cost increases, particularly to fuel bills.

“We estimate that our own energy bill will increase by more than 50%. Hft’s 2021 Sector Pulse Check research revealed that financial pressures, including the increasing cost of fuel, had forced over two-fifths of providers to close down some parts of their organisation or hand back contracts. It is therefore vital that Liz Truss puts in place ring-fenced support to help providers weather this crisis at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure this trend does not continue.

“We know that our crucial and hard-working staff are also being hit by the cost-of-living crisis. Rather than scrap the Health and Social Care Levy, the new Prime Minister must recognise the vital contribution made by the social care workforce and redirect additional funds to increase wages.

“Local authorities need to be able to commission providers at a rate which will cover wages reflecting the real-term cost of living and attract more individuals to work in the sector. The Sector Pulse Check research also found that 71% of learning disability care providers were either in deficit or their surplus had decreased. Inflation, rising energy bills and the general cost of living will only serve to exacerbate this.

“It is essential that Liz Truss takes immediate action to meet the myriad recommendations made by the sector in recent weeks so the adult social care sector is able to weather the storm of the coming winter, and continue to provide support in the years ahead to everyone who needs it,” she concludes.

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