Disability charity evicts residents due to ‘chronic underfunding’ of services

28 Nov 2022 News

Disability charity Leonard Cheshire has evicted some of its care home residents due to the organisation being unable to cover increased costs.

Leonard Cheshire told the Guardian that several local councils it provides contracted services for have not increased funding to cover costs that have risen due to high inflation.    

Since February, the charity has served 11 eviction notices linked to contracts “under negotiation without agreement”. Of these, two were overturned after the contracting authority agreed to pay for higher costs. 

The charity, which works with 138 local authorities, reported that 12 of its care home residents across the country are at risk of being evicted.     

Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2021 show that Leonard Cheshire supports over 2,500 disabled people and has 71 residential services, which include care and nursing homes, alongside 53 supported living services. 

NPC warned that as more charities face the combined pressures of rising costs and needs, “subsidising from other income will become increasingly unviable”. 

Funding ‘not keeping pace with real costs’

Leonard Cheshire said that it has spent millions of pounds to subsidise care service costs not covered by councils. 

The charity said this subsidising has led it to a crisis point as now its own financial viability is threatened. 

A spokesperson for Leonard Cheshire said: “Social care is a sector in crisis following years of chronic underfunding and the absence of meaningful long-term reform. Councils urgently need a cash injection from government to address soaring costs and pressures affecting every provider. With council budgets squeezed to breaking point and further rationing of services on the horizon, funding being allocated to providers like us is sometimes simply not keeping pace with the real costs of care in many cases.   

“Disabled people with complex needs should be able to access the care they require, without providers meeting shortfalls which isn’t sustainable. There needs to be greater understanding about the higher costs involved in delivering high quality care and support for people with complex needs of all ages. The government must urgently ensure costs of care for working-age disabled people are fairly reflected in social care funding, so that those with complex needs are not potentially discriminated against by some authorities implementing local cost regimes that are out of step with reality.”

Last month, a resident in one of the charity’s care homes in Somerset was served with an eviction notice after the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Pool (BCP) council, which pays for their yearly £90,000 care package, said it would not cover rising costs. 

The eviction order was withdrawn after Leonard Cheshire and BCP reached an agreement. 

“We have been working with Leonard Cheshire for several months to agree increased fee levels for their services and were disappointed that they threatened eviction in this case. However, we have reached agreement with the provider on funding and have apologised to the family for any distress caused,” a spokesperson for BCP said. 

NPC: ‘Subsidising from other income will become increasingly unviable’

NPC previously called on the government to reform commissioning for public contracts, arguing that the practice of commissioners underpaying charities needs to stop in light of soaring inflation. 

Theo Clay, policy manager at NPC, said that Leonard Cheshire is “a clear example of a problem faced by many charities; contracts are too often not enough to cover the cost of doing the work”. 

“This is dangerous. As more charities face the joint pressures of rising costs and rising needs, subsidising from other income will become increasingly unviable. We risk seeing more charities facing impossible choices about who gets help and who does not,” he added.

“We need a more sustainable procurement framework which recognises the wider value charities bring, and pays them accordingly. The Procurement Bill being debated this week offers an ideal opportunity to better recognise social value and the wider cost-savings which civil society brings to public services.”

A government spokesperson commented: “We have prioritised health and social care in the autumn statement, with up to £7.5 billion available over the next two years to support adult social care services and improve access to care for the most vulnerable in our society – the biggest funding increase in history.

“Our annual domestic recruitment campaign, Made With Care, is encouraging people to take up a career in adult social care and we are also investing £15 million to increase international recruitment.”

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