Thousands of jobs at risk in learning disability sector

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As many as 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, according to new research published by the national learning disabilities charity Hft.

The research carried out by leading independent economics and business consultancy, Cebr, examines the impact of financial pressures on the viability of the adult care sector, with a specific focus on learning disabilities.

Among its key findings is that adult social care services requires additional annual funding of at least five per cent simply to maintain current service levels.

The full report, which was launched at a parliamentary event to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, also highlights that:

  • The National Living Wage (NLW) will add an extra £460 million to wage bills in the learning disability care sector by 2020.
  • The social care sector has the highest proportion of staff over 25, meaning it is more adversely affected by NLW due to an older workforce.
  • Without additional funding, of the providers surveyed who responded, just over half expect to be running into deficit within three years.
  • In response to cost pressures, a third of providers surveyed had already cut back on staff while just under half had started to curb future investment.

Since February 2016, through its It Doesn’t Add Up campaign, Hft has been actively raising awareness around the funding pressures faced by social care providers due to the NLW not being properly factored in to local authority commissioning rates.

Robert Longley-Cook, Chief Executive of Hft, said in the wake of the Autumn Statement, which saw no additional funding allocated for social care, the need is greater than ever.

Our report is the latest in a growing body of work warning of the dangers facing adult social care if the current funding climate remains unchanged. The two per cent precept has proven to be an inefficient strategy for plugging the funding gap. At a time when demand continues to grow year on year, our research shows that based on current levels of service, at least a 5 per cent uplift is needed just to keep the industry breaking even.

Our research shows that without this, the providers across the sector simply cannot break even and will be forced to consider redundancies, which could result in a 10 per cent loss in the workforce, or closing services.

Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW as we believe staff should be rewarded for the excellent work they do. However we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is an industry facing increasing demands and decreasing margins. This situation is simply unsustainable and could ultimately lead to some of the most vulnerable adults in society ending up without the vital support that they need.

Alasdair Cavalla, Senior Economist at Cebr, explained:

Deep and prolonged cuts to the social care sector have left this vital part of our economy severely underfunded. This puts many vulnerable people’s care at risk as well as tens of thousands of jobs in the sector. While the National Living Wage should be beneficial to the economy overall, clearly it cannot be implemented within largely state-funded sectors without a corresponding increase in the funding going to these sectors.

Hft is now calling on the government for a minimum of a five per cent uplift per year in funding for the sector through to 2020 and asking the public to show their support for some of the most vulnerable adults in society by using the hashtag #GiveMe5.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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