‘Funding drought’ leads to re-evaluation of contracts at Hft

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Hft has been forced to hand back some of its contracts because of a lack of funding needed to run services to the standards it wishes.

In its latest financial report for the year ended 31 March 2018, the charity said while the ‘funding drought’ had been ongoing since 2010/11, it had come to a point where it could no longer continue with some contracts.

It said: ‘Culturally this is totally at odds with how Hft has previously operated: to us handing back contracts feels like ‘giving up’ on people we have supported for much of their lives. Yet the reality is that we have needed to do this when funding is insufficient to run a service to our standard, to ensure that the whole organisation is sustainable for the majority of the people we support.’

The charity, which supports more than 2,900 adults with learning disabilities across 450 locations in the UK, has been exploring ‘transformational’ models of care to ensure services for people who have challenging behaviour achieve evidenced outcomes and are financially sustainable.

The issue of sleep ins ‘continued to consume significant time and resource’ for the charity. In November 2017, it became one of the first providers to enter the social care compliance scheme.

It accelerated the sale of property assets and held back on investments in new services to ensure money was available to cover any liabilities.

The report said: ‘Despite the severity and scale of the funding and sleep-in issues, and the need for a government-led national solution, the political scene has been dominated by Brexit. Despite social care being clearly in crisis, there does not appear to have been the bandwidth in Westminster to address the issue.’

In August, Unison lodged an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court regarding sleep-in payments. In July, the Court of Appeal decided in favour of Mencap – that it is only time spent awake and working which is counted during a sleep-in shift.

During the reporting period, total income at Hft rose 8.6% to £85m (2017: £78.3m), while expenditure fell to £78.7m (£80.6m), leaving the charity with a net income of £6.1m against a deficit of £1.9m the year previous.