The viability of learning disability care will remain in limbo for a further month, but a door seems to be opening for at least some financial backing from the Government.

HMRC were due to pursue providers for a total bill estimated at £400 million from Monday (October 2), to back pay sleep-in workers a six-year national living wage 'deficit'.

Most sleep-in carers have been paid a flat fee rather than an hourly wage in recent years.

The Government have now put the pursuit of these funds, which for Mencap alone come close to £20million, on hold for a month.

Evidencing intervention

The Government says it will establish, in October, "how providers' back pay bills will affect vulnerable people’s care."

"The evidence base will also ensure any [Government] intervention is proportionate and necessary." 

The Government appear to be signalling they may part-fund arrears, if sufficient evidence is provided by the sector that services will be forced to close.

Mencap have so far stopped short of saying any of their own services would be closed, but they have said it would wipe out their reserves and many other players in the sector would end up scaling back or cease delivering services.

Reacting to the Government's latest "suspension of enforcement", Mencap said: “It is deeply disappointing that, after many months of review and consideration, the Government is still not able to announce any decision on the provision of support for care providers."

“The further delay will mean that people with a learning disability, their families and carers are subjected to yet more uncertainty and anxiety, while providers will be forced to delay essential investment, and local authorities will struggle to persuade providers to take on new contracts."

“It is nevertheless encouraging that the Government appears to accept the need to support the sector in dealing with the £400 million back pay liability."

"It remains essential that the sector receives full funding for this liability to avoid unacceptable harm to people with a learning disability and insolvencies among providers."

Certainty

Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, said: "We will continue to work with the Government during this extension period with the aim of seeing back pay liability fully funded."

"We must see this issue resolved and are disappointed that the Government has not yet made a decision. Providers and the people they care for need certainty."