Most providers face going into red this winter without extra Covid social care funding, warns ADASS

A third of providers already making loss despite council funding to cover PPE and drops in level of service but authorities running out of cash to do so, says head of directors' body

James Bullion - president of ADASS, 2020-21
James Bullion (credit: Norfolk County Council)

Social care faces a “dangerous scenario” of most care providers going into the red this winter unless the government gives councils more funding to support them manage the impact of Covid-19.

That was the warning from Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) president James Bullion, in an appearance before the House of Commons health and social care select committee yesterday.

ADASS estimated that one-third of providers were currently making a loss because of the additional costs from Covid-19 – including personal protective equipment and covering staff sickness – and reduced income as a result of service reductions, Bullion told MPs.

This is despite councils stepping in to cover costs, making use of the £3.7bn in un-ringfenced funding allocated to authorities by government to meet the costs of the coronavirus.

‘Dangerous scenario’

However, Bullion warned that councils were running out of this cash and could not continue to support providers in the way they have done without extra funding.

The government has separately provided £600m to help care homes in particular manage infection control – but Bullion said this was “very welcome but very narrow” as it was focused on managing staff sickness and minimising staff movement.

He warned: “There’s a very dangerous scenario where most providers start to make a loss this winter. I would urge common sense to prevail as the outcome of the recent social care taskforce and to extend in-year some of the payments we’ve received so that we can cope with the winter period.”

The taskforce he referenced was set up to reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission in the sector, between people receiving care and support and social care staff. Bullion is among the members, a point he mentioned to MPs.

‘Business as usual’ returning

Responding to Bullion’s comments, United Kingdom Homecare Association policy director Colin Angel said: “Central government funding passed to providers through local councils has undoubtedly shielded the social care sector from market failures, particularly when referrals of new packages of care had almost completely ceased.  Referrals have started to pick-up, but the ongoing costs of additional PPE are enormous and will be longstanding.

“Regrettably, the message from many councils to their providers is that financial support is coming to an end.  Commissioning is returning to ‘business as usual’, including the highly undesirable practices of payment-by-the-minute and fee rates which were unsustainable, even before the pandemic began.”

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents many independent care homes, said: “Care England echoes the severity of these claims and calls for a long-term commitment to the adult social care sector. In addition, short-term funding is necessary to support social care providers including an extension to the infection control fund. Thus far many providers’ costs have not been covered by the temporary funding which has compounded the financial pressures upon them.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges facing the social care sector and we are doing everything we can to support it. We have provided councils with access to an additional £1.5bn for adult and children’s social care in 2020-21 and we have made £3.7bn available to councils in England so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care, as well as a £600m infection control fund.”

3 Responses to Most providers face going into red this winter without extra Covid social care funding, warns ADASS

  1. James Appledore September 9, 2020 at 6:27 pm #

    ADASS should be asking questions of how care providers have contributed to poor care and deaths rather than pleading on behalf of these businesses for more tax payers money. Big providers have continued to pay share dividends throughout the pandemic so it’s really galling that ADASS sees fit to plead for more funding from government and council tax payers on their behalf. Why should the public purse buy PPE and pay sick pay to their zero hour contract staff while such providers enjoy their tax haven protected profits? Lets hear what ADASS thinks about the appalling deaths on the isle of Skye rather than pleading for more money for that company. You are the voice of the public not a public relations company for hedge funds. Shame on you ADASS.

  2. Cynthia O'brien September 9, 2020 at 10:22 pm #

    Apparently the highest paid director of the company that ran the home on Skye, where 11 residents died, earns £808 thousand a year and another owner earned £2.5 million over 10 years. The Scottish inspection body had discovered negligence and appalling levels of cleanliness. How is this not of concern to ADASS given that the company doesn’t just run homes in Scotland?

  3. Chris Sterry September 11, 2020 at 9:13 pm #

    I assume the article is referring to all aspects of Social Care and not those just pertaining to Care Homes, for social care also includes home care, supported living, respite care, hospices and others for both children and adults.

    Care homes is just a small proportion of the areas covered by social care and does not include the local authority offices which manage social care through Social Workers and others.

    Social care is in a very deep crisis and was well before COVID-19 and if social care fails who will look after all the persons who are in need of care.

    The Government may say their families, but these families will have been administering care for many years and the persons within these families who have administered care will themselves be ageing and will most likely be having their own health issues.

    With their advancing ages and the deterioration of their own health, many will now be finding it impossible to still under take the caring duties they have undertook in the past. Without the existence of social care the persons in need of care will be left to suffer, even to the point of death, which will create safeguarding issues.

    This Government appears to be incapable of understanding the issues of social care, mainly because they have sufficient wealth themselves so they do not have to contact the social services areas of the local authorities.

    Family carers are already save the UK over £130 billion by providing unpaid care, but this is lost on this Government.

    Yes, they have come up with some funding to partly cover additional costs due to COVID-19, but these paltry sums are well short of what is required.

    For before COVID-19, social care needed a cash injection of, at least, £12 billion and that would only have brought the funding levels to that of 2010. The Government have from 2010 been starving local authorities of funding due to austerity cuts, of which Social Care had to take their share of funding cuts.

    This was bad enough, but before 2010 social care was not being sufficiently funded. It would not surprise me if Social Care had been under funding since 1970 when the Government of the day amalgamated all aspects of social care to local authorities. As before social care was a mis-match of organisation all doing the best they could, but the best was also insufficient.

    So, social care is in a massive crisis and if it fails this will create untold suffering on those in need of carer, thereby causing even more required access to health care through the NHS.

    Yes, much is wrong with social care in the UK and much of this is down to insufficient funding, so, this Government, needs to, urgently provide all the funding required.

    With this in mind I created the petition, Solve the crisis in Social Care, https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/solve-the-crisis-in-social-care.

    More information is available at https://1drv.ms/w/s!Aq2MsYduiazgnx7jQA8HcbxbSWs8?e=HWRJy3

    Even though the information is extensive it does not include all aspects pertaining to the crisis.

    Funding is urgently required, so please consider viewing and supporting the petition, for you will never know when you are members of your family will need social care

    #care #socialcare #crisis

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