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Tuesday 21st
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

Funding crisis leaving private homecare providers in the red

A STAGGERING 95 councils have had care contracts cancelled by private companies, a BBC Panorama investigation revealed yesterday.

Drastic cuts to local authorities’ social-care funding has led to a race to the bottom, with private homecare firms struggling to deliver the required level of care and terminating their contracts, the programme-makers found.

A quarter of them were close to insolvency, and 70 of the 2,500 homecare companies had closed in the last three months.

The firms, which are hired by councils to provide care to enable people to live in their own homes, are also struggling with the recruitment and retention of staff.

The Local Government Association warned in January that the “continued underfunding” of social care would see an increase in the number of people with “unmet basic needs.”

Experts say the amount that the government needs to give to councils to close the socialcare funding gap is between £1.3 billion and £2bn.

GMB national secretary Rehana Azam accused the government of attempting to “paper over the cracks” of a social-care crisis that it has created.

She attacked the £4bn worth of cuts since 2010 and said that the paltry £2bn funding over three years gives “the grand total of minus £2.5bn over the last seven years.”

Ms Azam added: “They should stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes and tackle this mounting crisis before it worsens … The government’s neglect is an ugly stain.”

Unison assistant national officer Matt Egan called for increased funding for social care.

He said: “Care firms pay staff rock-bottom wages, use zero-hours contracts and often fail to pay for travel time to keep down costs.

“Care companies must also be rigorously investigated before being handed a contract to ensure that they’re able to deliver the services they’re promising.”

Shadow cabinet minister for social care Barbara Keeley said the report was more evidence of the government’s failure to address the crisis.

She said: “With £4.6bn cuts to social care in the last parliament and rising pressures from demand, costs and wages, it is no surprise that an increasing number of care providers are finding it impossible to make their contracts work.

“It’s time the government gave social care the money it needs and develops a fair long-term funding solution to provide sufficient good quality and dignified care for those who need it.”