More than half (59%) of learning disability care providers have been forced to close parts of their organisation or hand back contracts to local authorities because of cost pressures.
Financial pressures have led to more than double the number of providers handing back contracts in the past 12 months.
A 28-page report, published by Hft, found that more than two-thirds (68%) fear they will have to do the same ‘in the near future’, while 11% foresaw a drop in the quality of care if their financial situation did not improve.
Analysis found that recruitment remained a challenge with 80% of providers reporting low wages as the biggest barrier to employing and retaining staff.
The number of providers citing the rising cost of agency workers as one of the main pressures, has rocketed from 13% to 63%. It comes second only to rising wage bills. There are 110,000 social care vacancies on any one day in the country, according to figures from Skills for Care.
The research is Hft’s second annual Sector Pulse Check report and was carried out by business consultancy Cebr.
Based on a survey of 56 providers, the report highlighted that more than three-quarters (78%) of providers have increased the amount of resource they allocated to recruitment over the past year, with two-thirds (67%) of these running a campaign to reduce staff vacancies.
Only 4% of providers have completed preparations for Brexit, while a further 28% have either not started or were less prepared than last year. There is a lack of confidence in the government to resolve the sleep-in crisis, with 72% saying they did not believe they will see an end to the issue this year.
Billy Davis, Public Affairs and Policy Manager for Hft said: ‘This year’s sector pulse check is a red flag for the future of social care. With repeated calls for a sustainable funding solution going unheeded, we are now seeing the true cost of government inaction on providers.
‘The underfunding of social care is a national crisis that requires a national solution. With the green paper on social care now long overdue, we call on the government to urgently address the issues facing the sector, before it affects some of the most vulnerable adults in our society.’