Warning of ‘significant’ closures as sector faces £6.6bn COVID-19 bill


A significant number of care home providers face going out of business without additional government support as a result of the coronavirus crisis, ADASS has warned.

In its Budget Survey, ADASS said the sector faced £6.6bn in extra costs for PPE, staffing and deep cleans by the end of September 2020.

The report warns the actual costs to local authorities and adult social care providers of the pandemic will far outside Emergency Funding made available to date by the government.

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It states that to date social care has had access to just half of the government’s £3.2bn Emergency Funding to local government along with the £600m Infection Control Fund.

The report says only 4% of directors are confident that their budgets are sufficient to meet their statutory duties and calls for “significant additional funding” to provide a “social care minimum wage” for staff.

The Budget Survey follows a Coronavirus Survey published last week which looked at the impact of the pandemic on the sector.

James Bullion, ADASS President, said: “These reports are a wake-up call that requires a clear response. Urgent action is needed to plug the financial black hole that has been blown in local government finances, to properly recognise and reward colleagues working in social care, stabilise providers of care and most importantly safeguard and ultimately enhance the care and support available to those of us who need it.

“Without such action, local authorities will run out of money, care providers will go to the wall, many of us will not get the care and support we need, and the economy will take a further hit as more of us are forced to give up work to fill the caring gaps. Prioritising social care is the right thing to do morally, ethically, economically and politically. We must act now, for all our sakes.”

Sam Monaghan CEO of MHA, the largest charity elderly care provider in the UK, commented: “The ADASS report couldn’t be clearer. Help social care providers immediately to remain viable and do it properly or many will ‘go to the wall’ and soon.”

Sam said MHA had not seen any of the first pot of ‘ring fenced’  £3.2bn Emergency Funding, adding the £600m Infection Control Fund support came with “byzantine criteria” that made it “near impossible” to access.

The MHA boss said that only a third of his services had received “modest” financial help which failed to cover the costs of the pandemic, adding that “absurdly” PPE and deep cleans were not covered by the funding.

“For 14 weeks now our sector has battled through this pandemic with little support and our staff have been nothing short of heroic,” Sam added. “We cannot go back to how we were. Social care needs an ambitious new settlement and now is the time.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, added: “This pandemic has highlighted the real costs of adult social care, not just in terms of money, but of the worth of staff. We need to ensure that adult social care is adequately resourced in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society.  Unfortunately the government has used the flawed mechanism of local authorities to dispense much needed money and a huge amount of the COVID-19 relief funds have not reached the front line.”

Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group said: “Just as directors of adult social services have no confidence in their budgets being sufficient to meet all of their statutory duties, so do voluntary sector providers who are questioning how long services can continue without a clear direction in their funding.

“The funding provided from central government to date, which was aimed at alleviating the financial pressures faced by local authorities during the pandemic, has simply not been enough – a stark reality laid bare in the findings of this survey.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have taken significant steps to support care sector since the start of the pandemic, with £3.2bn for local authorities to help address pressures on local services, including in in adult social care, and £600 million to control infections in care homes.

“The social care workforce are at the front line of this unprecedented pandemic and we are committed to supporting them, ensuring that we have the staff we need, and that those in the sector feel both supported and valued for the crucial role they continue to play in our national effort to respond to COVID-19.

“We remain absolutely committed to bringing forward a plan for social care so everybody is treated with dignity and respect, and nobody has to sell their home to pay for care. The Health Secretary has already sought views from across Parliament – but this is one of the most complex issues we face, and it is right we take time to develop a fair, sustainable solution.”

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The author Lee Peart

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