Council directors ‘could not manage’ if a large provider failed in their area

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Three in four directors of adult social care services (75%) could not cope if a large provider were to fail, data from Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have revealed.

Rising costs are adding a further layer of pressures for providers, and councils in England argue they will struggle to deal with failure of care operators this winter. Just over half of directors (54%) indicated they disagreed or strongly disagreed they could manage the failure of several small care providers.

Its autumn survey resulted in directors increasingly pessimistic over the outlook of the sector, with 94% not believing they have the funding to meet care costs of older and disabled people in their area.

Survey results showed 97% of directors reported they feel either pessimistic or very pessimistic about the financial state of the health and social care economy. Just over half (52%) of respondents were very pessimistic. This figure has jumped from 85% in July, of which 21% were very pessimistic.

In total, 116 councils submitted responses to the autumn survey, representing a 76% response rate. It was conducted between 13 October and 4 November and results have been extrapolated.

In the past four months, 64% of councils reported providers in their area had closed, ceased trading or handed back contracts. This compared to 67% in the winter period six months before the ADASS spring survey, which was published July.

A total of 4,833 people were directly impacted by provider closures, cessation of trading or contract hand backs in the past four months.

As many as 1,189 individuals were affected by homecare operators closing down or ceasing trading in the past four months. This is an average of 35 people per council, compared to an average of 22 people in the six months before July.

Respondents reported 1,393 people were affected by the closure or cessation of trading of residential or nursing care operators. This is an average of 30 people impacted per council, up from 26 people in the half-year before July.

The findings come ahead of the chancellor’s autumn statement on Thursday, which will set out spending cuts and the possible postponement of social care reforms, which are due to come into force next year.

ADASS is calling for any savings arising from a postponement to be used to improve care workers’ pay and conditions, to enable more people to receive support at home and to help unpaid carers.

‘This is the bleakest autumn survey we have ever had. Only a handful of directors have any confidence they may be able to get through the winter with the funding they have and the care workers available locally. We were fearful in the summer; we are fearful now. This affects all of us,’ said Cathie Williams, ADASS chief executive.

‘The £500m discharge fund will not solve this, when it is finally distributed – and it is urgently needed. We desperately need another significant injection of emergency funding to provide more help for people at home.’