Friday, 23 February 2024
Friday, 23 February 2024

Learning disability care providers continue to hang by a thread

Hft, the national learning disability charity, is deeply disappointed that the Government has chosen to revoke the Health and Social Care Levy at a time when many disability care providers are sitting on a precipice.

Hft was responding to the Government’s ‘mini budget’ announced today by the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, who confirmed that the Government would honour the £13 billion funding for health and social care, but gave no clarity as to how this money would be raised.

The Levy, set to raise £5.4 billion for social care reform over the next three years, offered some light at the end of a very long tunnel after years of chronic underfunding, according to Kirsty Matthews, CEO of Hft.

“While we understand reversing the Levy will provide some relief during this cost of living crisis, rather than a ‘virtuous cycle of growth’ that the Chancellor refers to, the social care sector is currently on a downward spiral. There are more than 2.6 million people living with some form of unmet care need in England, yet we no longer have certainty about when or how we might receive an injection of funding to create stability and long-term reform.

“While the Government allocated an additional £500 million adult social care discharge fund this week – to get patients out of hospital and into care settings – as a provider of services for adults with learning disabilities, we will see little benefit from the fund as the Government is focusing on the social care sector as it relates to the care of the elderly, an approach we saw previously during the pandemic,” Ms Matthews says.

There is still little clarity as to what will be done by Government to address the current financial pressures our sector is facing, including staff wages and rising energy bills, let alone pay for a sustainable approach to the wholesale reform of adult social care.

“On her campaign trail, the PM stated that her first priority on social care ‘is making sure we’re getting the money into social care this winter’.

“The importance of this cannot be stressed enough,” says Ms Matthews. “As our Sector Pulse Check research revealed earlier this year, due to financial pressures, 43% of social care providers had to hand back contracts or close parts of their organisation. As it currently stands, this picture is only going to worsen.

“We implore the Prime Minister and her Government to make an urgent announcement to clarify how they will support our vital sector this winter and into the future beyond the emergency short-term measures to support discharge from hospital. We look forward to seeing confirmation to ensure providers can concentrate on delivering for the people they support.”

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