The coronavirus crisis has made “extremely fragile” care markets even more susceptible to market failure, at the detriment to people accessing care and support services, directors of adult social care services in England have warned.
A report by ADASS has revealed that prior to the pandemic, directors reported seeing a downward trend in the number of care providers that have closed, ceased trading or handed back contracts, compared to previous years.
However, since the onset of the crisis, directors are now more concerned about the financial sustainability of care providers.
In the past six months, 43% of local authorities reported that providers in their area had closed, ceased trading or handed back contracts. The number reporting closures has decreased from 75% of councils in 2019 and 66% in 2018, while the number seeing contract hand backs has remained constant.
Three quarters of directors responding to the survey last month said they are concerned about the financial sustainability of some of their home care providers, a figure that remains unchanged since before the pandemic.
However, 15% of directors now have concerns about the financial sustainability of most of their home and community care providers, up from 3% prior to the onset of COVID-19.
Furthermore, nearly every director (96%) highlighted the need for additional funding to help them, their staff and providers manage the local response to the pandemic.
The research follows the revelation by ADASS and the Local Government Association that providers of adult social care services may face more than £6.6 billion in extra costs due to the coronavirus crisis by the end of September this year.
ADASS said local authorities have taken a range of measures to support providers since the declaration of the pandemic, with 79% providing funding to tackle additional workforce costs to domiciliary care providers.
Meanwhile, 61% of the 146 directors responding to the survey last month said they had provided additional temporary funding to domiciliary care providers, while 95% have provided PPE to home care businesses during the crisis.
But ADASS says additional funding is still required from the government, “above and beyond that already committed” to support the adult social care response to the pandemic.
“ADASS has been clear that the £3.2bn of Emergency Funding provided to local government to-date will not be sufficient beyond the initial three-month period of the pandemic, or to cover all of the measures that will be needed over the coming period to ensure continuity of care, address needs and stabilise local providers,” the report said.
ADASS president James Bullion said: “It is clear that adult social care was rendered ill-equipped and under-resourced to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic by the failure of successive governments of all political colours to
recognise and understand how essential social care is and to put the people who need and work in it at the forefront; the failure to put social care on a sustainable and enduring footing…
“The Government must fulfil the promise of delivering sustainable funding and reform. Things must be different simply because things can never be the same again.”