The cost of living crisis continues to be the most pressing issue facing thousands of people across the country. Government policies announced to date to mitigate the risk to vulnerable people do not appear to apply to much of the social care sector who are having to deal with the brunt of the inflationary pressure. Government financial measures announced apply to people living in their own households and not to people living in social care settings where energy costs are running out of control. Nor does the Ofgem cap apply to social care providers.
Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum – the leading association for not for profit care and support organisations said:
“The eye watering increases in energy cost is a very serious concern amongst our members. They are facing price rises of 400% in gas and electricity prices which is totally unaffordable and way beyond anything budgeted or forecasted. This is causing immense pressure for social care providers. We need an urgent response from the government that will put a protection around people living in residential care settings – it is important to note that these people do not currently benefit from the government’s announced support for energy costs faced by households – all current and proposed schemes will not address the immediate crisis impacting on care homes right now.
“The sector cares for and supports some of the most vulnerable people in our society seven days a week, 365 days of the year and as we face the autumn and winter, it is clear that energy costs are rising exponentially. This is simply not sustainable. Action is needed now. We must see parity of support for vulnerable people living in care settings; we need care settings to be included in the domestic price cap, and we need an emergency ring-fenced energy fund which could flow from central government to local care providers. Social care providers need assurance now of the financial support that will be available in order to effectively plan for the sustainability of their service provision.”
The current energy crisis comes at a time when the sector is experiencing the worst workforce pressures the sector has ever known.
“Workforce remains a huge concern for everyone involved in care. There has not been a strategic focus on this, despite cross party attempts to make this happen. The importance of a plan cannot be understated, and it is the lack of planning that has resulted in the care sector being in a position where vacancy levels continue to soar, whilst for the first time ever the overall number of people employed in the workforce shrinks. Urgent and proactive system-wide solutions are required. These will need to involve an urgent focus on pay, terms and conditions.
“We are going to have to work extremely hard to ensure that the workers already delivering care remain in post. In addition, whilst the focus on international workforce is welcome, the cost of living crisis facing everyone in the UK will mean that without attention, workers coming to work in the UK will find themselves subject to the kinds of financial pressure that will make working in this country untenable.”
Note to Editors:
- The National Care Forum brings together 160 of the UK’s leading social care organisations, representing large numbers of care providers, offering thousands of services across the country, which are not for profit and always at the heart of community provision. Collectively, these organisations deliver more than £2.2 billion of social care and support to more than 217,000 people in 8,300 settings. The NCF membership body collectively employs more than 117,000 staff and 14,000 volunteers.
- While the Government has said that an equivalent to the Energy Bills Support Scheme will be provided to households not covered by the current support scheme, it is unclear if it a) extends to all residential care settings, b) how it will be provided and c) when it will be provided. No details have been provided to the sector.
- More information is available on the National Care Forum at www.nationalcareforum.org.uk. @NCFCareForum @vicrayner @NCF_Liz
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