Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Support providers for people with a learning disability at financial ‘tipping point’

People with learning disabilities and autism are being denied their right to decent, fulfilling, and stable care, according to a new report from learning disability and autism social care providers.

The financial impact report, commissioned by a group of providers of services for adults with a learning disability and autistic people, revealed that organisations are reaching a financial tipping point.

It found that three quarters of those surveyed expect to make losses or at best break-even this year. For the last five years, financial settlements haven’t kept pace with increases in costs, putting considerable pressure on the finances of these organisations.

It also revealed how providers are being forced to stop supporting people, handing back responsibility to local authorities due to consistent losses on the day-to-day operation of services. All chief executives interviewed for the research believe that these contract hand backs will accelerate over the next 18 months, with a direct impact on the quality of life of people whose support has become unaffordable.

Takes away their choice of who enters their home to support them

The organisations taking part in this research are independent social care providers who:

  • Have a combined operating turnover of £1.8 billion.
  • Together, support over 29,000 people with a learning disability and autism.
  • Together, employ over 43,000 staff.
  • Collectively represent 68% of learning disability and autism providers that are part of the CQC Market Oversight programme.

Organisations participating in this research include Affinity Trust, Alternative Futures, Choice Support, Creative Support, Dimensions, Mencap, Turning Point and United Response.

Rachael Dodgson, Chief Executive at Dimensions, said: “For too long we, the people we support, and the social care workforce have been bearing the consequences of a broken and underfunded system. There has been no escaping the impact of the recruitment crisis. Increased use of agency staff is not a solution, it’s part of the problem.

“Not only is this a drain of money providers don’t have, but it also leaves many autistic people and those with learning disabilities without familiar and trusted care and takes away their choice of who enters their home to support them.”

The group who commissioned the report are members of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Market Oversight Scheme. This was set up in 2015 to protect care and support recipients from the impact of a Southern Cross-style collapse that put 30,000 people’s care at risk in 2011.

Though this background is very different, this report says that in the absence of direct action from central government, there is a clear risk of repeat.

The report concluded that the culmination of sustained underfunding and shortage of labour is starting to show. This is leading to increased cost, reduced quality, which creates greater market instability and is in turn exacerbated by low pay.

It added that given what is forecast for the next two years, this picture only worsens over time. Inaction effectively places these consequences squarely on the shoulders of people with a learning disability and/or autism, and their families.

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