Campaigners today warned that unless the Government steps up funding for local authorities many social care providers could go to the wall as they battle to look after older and vulnerable people during coronavirus.
The Government announced an extra £1.6bn in March and a further £1.6bn this month to help local authorities support social care.
But the Independent Care Groups says the Government must heed Local Government Association warnings that this extra £3.2bn won’t be enough.
It is calling on the Government to treat social care the same at it has treated the NHS because all are working together to conquer Covid-19.
ICG chair, Mike Padgham said: “Of course any extra funding for local authorities will, I am sure, be welcome, but we are told the £3.2bn pledged so far is nowhere near enough to support local authorities to a point where they can in turn help social care providers during coronavirus.
“At the same time, that money is simply not getting to the front line as some local authorities pass it on to providers whilst others don’t. Across the country, it is patchy to say the least.
“There is a very real danger that there will be social care business failures in the coming weeks. Care providers have been suffering financial hardship for many years due to chronic under-funding. Now they are facing huge increases in costs, for instance the costs of bringing in agency staff to cover for staff who are unwell, sick pay costs and the increasing cost of protective equipment. Due to stopping admissions, some care homes are also seeing a dramatic reduction in income and homecare providers are suffering a reduction in contracts.
“We need the Government to treat social care the same as it is treating the NHS. For example, NHS debts have been wiped by the Government; can we not see similar support for social care?
“We have written to the Chancellor asking him to make social care zero-rated for VAT, which would help providers to invest in care. For example, social care providers are currently paying VAT for PPE whilst NHS and local authority providers don’t. We need that anomaly to be ended so we are all treated the same.
“The Government has repeatedly promised to do whatever was needed to get the country through the pandemic. Social care now needs that action, otherwise providers will not be able to play their part in beating Covid-19 and many could cease to operate at all.”
Social care currently looks after 400,000 people in care and nursing homes – that is three times the number in NHS hospital beds. Social care looks after a further 640,000 people in their own homes.