Care providers "don't want to write their own suicide notes", Mencap have said after the government refused to step in to fund the £400 million bill owed by the sector to sleep in carers.

“The announcement may help HMRC understand the extent of the liabilities for back pay but it completely fails to give any reassurance to people with a learning disability that their homes and care are secure and to carers that their jobs are not under threat."

A new sleep-in shift pay compliance scheme was rolled out yesterday to identify the exact amount of back-pay owed by care providers to workers. It will be in place for a year and at the end of that year carers will have to pay the identified debt.

Care providers who do not sign up to the "voluntary" scheme will be pursued by the HMRC, the Government have warned.

"HMRC will write to social care employers who currently have a complaint against them for allegedly underpaying minimum wage rates for sleep-in shifts to encourage them to sign up to the scheme," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

"Employers that choose not to opt into the scheme will be subject to HMRC’s normal enforcement approach."

Who should pay?

Care providers do not dispute the money should be paid, but argue the government should pick up the tab as tribunal rulings are being applied retrospectively and represent a number of years' worth of costs.

"Despite the Government’s stated commitment ‘to creating an economy that works for everyone’ it appears ready to sacrifice the well-being of some of the most vulnerable members of society and place at risk the jobs of people who are among the lowest paid," said Derek Lewis, Mencap Chairman.

“The announcement may help HMRC understand the extent of the liabilities for back pay but it completely fails to give any reassurance to people with a learning disability that their homes and care are secure and to carers that their jobs are not under threat."

“Three months on from the Government’s commitment to seek a solution to the devastating £400 million liability hanging over the sector, there is only the promise of further delay and no commitment, even in principle, to accept responsibility for a liability created by Government changing the rules.

"The Government has put in place a new 'voluntary' compliance regime to help HMRC assess the back-pay liability of individual providers, which will crystalise the debt. They will then have three months to pay."

'Sector suicide'

"Details of the scheme have not yet been made available. Many providers, particularly smaller ones, may be reluctant to take part in the absence of any funding assurance, concerned that they will be writing their own suicide note."

"Meanwhile, although Government has belatedly issued guidance to local authority care commissioners that they should in future be funding the increased cost of sleep-ins, over half of local authorities are still refusing to do so."

"It is quite wrong that providers should be expected to subsidise the increased cost of on-going sleep-in care."

Scope announced over the summer they would become a campaigning organisation and cease providing their traditional educational and residential services.

Earlier this week Choice Support and mcch revealed they are to merge.