Care leaders have voiced their disappointment at proposals from the LGA and ADASS to cover additional costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement, the LGA and ADASS suggested that costs for social care providers were likely to increase in the region of 10% this month, and that local authorities would need to consider how best to make additional payments, which could include directly meeting additional costs, uplifts to fees, or through support in kind.
The statement also aims to address concerns about sustainability and price, particularly around cost pressures such as higher dependency levels, higher staff sickness absence rates, higher administration costs due to greater volatility of support packages and personal protective equipment costs.
It follows the government announcement on March 19 that it would give £1.6bn emergency funding to local authorities to help cover additional pressures created by the coronavirus crisis.
Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, said: “A 10% increase is simply insufficient, no ifs or buts. If local government cannot reconcile funding for adult social care and thus does not have the money to fund care home beds for existing and new residents then we have a serious problem on our hands. It is false economy to underfund the adult social care sector and will also severely impact hospital services.”
Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of VODG, added: “While we recognise that local authorities have been left with a meagre budget, the suggestion that costs for social care providers will rise by in the region of 10% is inaccurate and does not reflect the current and continually rising costs of provision. Furthermore, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on social care providers and associated staffing pressures will continue long into the future.
“The statement is also concerning because it lacks clear direction and a mandate, without which there is the risk that local authorities may simply choose to ignore the guidance. Funding for learning disability and autism and other disability services also needs to be clarified without delay.
“Now more than ever we need strong local leadership to work hand in hand with the voluntary sector to ensure people in some of the most vulnerable circumstances are best supported at this time of great need.”
United Kingdom Homecare Association policy director, Colin Angel, said the guidance is a “positive move” after several weeks of delay, but the success of this is “entirely dependent” on each council acting on the recommendations “immediately”.
“Regrettably, despite urgent representations from provider organisations, local government’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been based on their own short-term budgetary considerations, rather than on meeting the anticipated cost of care during an emergency situation,” he added.
“Many local councils appear to be willing to pass the risk of financial failure to independent and voluntary sector providers, rather than absorb the immediate costs while negotiating with central Government for additional funding. Multiple provider failure would have a devastating impact on older and disabled people who rely on care and support at home.
“In an unprecedented emergency, central Government needs to fund the full costs of community-based support and ensure that it has the powers to take direct action with those councils willing to place their provider markets at risk. Nor is central Government addressing the cost pressures on care purchased by private individuals.”