Disability charities have urged the government to address the funding gap facing the sector ahead of the Budget next month.
Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), which represents over 80 leading voluntary and charity social care disability provider organisations, has today published a report, warning of a £1.3bn shortfall in funding.
It says funding from local authorities for residential care provision fell short by £1.3bn in 2016/17 and warned this will rise in the coming years with increasing demand and rising costs of providing services.
The number of disabled people in England is projected to continue to grow, increasing from 11 million in 2017 to 11.7 million by 2025, the report says.
The report highlights that the average hourly rate paid to care providers has increased with the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016.
The report calls for the government to identify a “long term, sustainable funding solution particularly for working age adults”. It urges ministers to work with organisations including VODG to develop a plan for a “sustainable social care workforce”.
The report acknowledges that adult social care has won some additional funding such as the Improved Better Care Fund and the Adult Social Care Precept but says this is “a drop in the ocean” given the demand, rising costs and workforce issues.
It also says there is trouble with recruitment, with an estimated 90,000 vacancies across the adult social care sector at any one time so far this year.
It warns that the decision for Britain to leave the EU has the potential to create even more instability in the sector’s labour market.
“An estimated 90,000 adult social care jobs in England, seven per cent, are filled by EU workers, but there are large regional variations: in the north of England over 90 per cent of the adult social care workforce is British, whereas in London only 59 per cent is British,” it says.
VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said: “The issue of squeezed funding, increasing demand, increasing costs and workforce challenges has wider ramifications.
“There will be a direct impact on the lives of disabled people as well as a knock-on effect on other public sector services such as the NHS.
“The government must develop a strong, sustainable funding plan for social care unless it wants to risk damaging both the quality and quantity of support services available to people who most rely on them.”
The report repeats calls from the sector in recent months for the government to drop its back-pay demands for overnight sleep-in shift workers to be back-paid the minimum wage for up to six years.
Enforcement action by HMRC is currently suspended while the government assesses the potential impact of the back-pay demands on the social care sector.