As many as 30,000 jobs – 10% of the workforce – in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, unless additional funding is provided to meet the rising costs of the sector, warns new research.
The research, carried out by independent economics and business consultancy, Cebr, and published in a report by learning disability charity Hft, examines the impact of financial pressures on the viability of the adult care sector, with a specific focus on learning disabilities.
Among the key findings of the report, which combines survey analysis from social care providers and financial modelling, is that based on the current level of service an uplift of at least 5% per year is required to meet the rising cost of adult social care services.
The full report, which is being launched at a Parliamentary event on Tuesday, December 6 also highlights that:
•The National Living Wage (NLW) will add an extra £460 million to wage bills in the learning disability care sector by 2020
•The social care sector has the highest proportion of staff over 25, meaning it is more adversely affected by NLW due to an older workforce
•In order to just break even, a funding increase of at least 5% per year is needed
•Without additional funding, of the providers surveyed who responded, 55% will be running into deficit within three years
•In response to cost pressures, a third of providers surveyed had already cut back on staff while 48% had started to curb future investment.
Since February, through its It Doesn’t Add Up campaign, Hft has been raising awareness around the funding pressures faced by social care providers due to the NLW not being properly factored in to local authority commissioning rates.
Robert Longley-Cook, chief executive of Hft, said in the wake of the Autumn Statement, which saw no additional funding allocated for social care, the need is greater than ever. “Our report is the latest in a growing body of work warning of the dangers facing adult social care if the current funding climate remains unchanged,” he said. “The 2% precept has proven to be an inefficient strategy for plugging the funding gap. At a time when demand continues to grow year on year, our research shows that based on current levels of service, at least a 5% uplift is needed just to keep the industry breaking even.
“Our research shows that without this, the providers across the sector simply cannot break even and will be forced consider redundancies, which could result in a 10% loss in the workforce, or closing services.
“Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW as we believe staff should be rewarded for the excellent work they do. However, we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is an industry facing increasing demands and decreasing margins. This situation is simply unsustainable and could ultimately lead to some of the most vulnerable adults in society ending up without the vital support that they need.”
Alasdair Cavalla, senior economist at Cebr, added: “Deep and prolonged cuts to the social care sector have left this vital part of our economy severely underfunded. This puts many vulnerable people’s care at risk as well as tens of thousands of jobs in the sector. While the National Living Wage should be beneficial to the economy overall, clearly it cannot be implemented within largely state-funded sectors without a corresponding increase in the funding going to these sectors.”
Hft is calling on the government for a minimum of a 5% uplift per year in funding for the sector through to 2020 and asking the public to show their support for some of the most vulnerable adults in society by using the hashtag #GiveMe5.