Market Oversight: a warning to the government

Over the past couple of months, I and a group of fellow CEOs from many of the country’s largest social care providers of support for people with learning disabilities and autistic people have been sharing organisational performance data anonymously with social care research agency Cordis Bright.

Market Oversight report Cordis Bright final

Their report makes for a difficult read, with most major learning disability support providers who took part in the research, now making losses, or close to that point. That is clearly not a sustainable position for any organisation. Losses were mostly driven by rising workforce cost – particularly agency costs – that have not been offset by funding increases from local authorities. Indeed, funding increases have generally been less than wage growth for each of the last 3 years.

As the report makes clear, the impact will ultimately be felt by the people we all support and their loved ones; too much use of agency staff risks denying people with learning disabilities and autism their right to decent, fulfilling, and stable support.

Unless the funding position changes, all the support providers in the report expect to have to hand back to the local authority, some contracts for supporting people, putting their day-to-day support at risk and leaving the local authority the unenviable task of working out how to fulfil their obligations under the Care Act.  Of course, we are doing all we can to avoid that, and this report is just part of a bigger picture.

Officials at the Department for Health and Social Care and a number of MPs received the report last week along with requests for urgent meetings.

None of this is news to the Government of course. What is new, is that this report was commissioned by members of the CQC’s Market Oversight group – that is, providers that would cause major disruption were they to leave the market. So, the report is authoritative by virtue of scale; organisations taking part in this research are independent social care providers who:

• Have a combined operating turnover of £1.8 billion – virtually all from the public purse.

• Together, support over 29,000 people with a learning disability and autism.

• Together, employ over 43,000 staff.

Whether you’re a colleague, someone we support or a family member reading this,   I want you to know how determined we are here at Dimensions to keep flying the flag for social care.  And we will do absolutely everything we can to influence change so we can pay our skilled and professional workforce what they deserve for the vital work they do to keep people safe and support them to lead a great life, each and every day.