The announcement that the five HSC Trusts are to impose a £70m cut on health and social care services is a threat to people with a learning disability who rely on good quality social care, the organisations that provide that care, and the dedicated staff who work so hard to provide the support needed.
Last year ARC NI told the Department of Health that supported living services had already soaked up funding freezes that amounted to a 15% cut.
This year, we are still finding out the full cost of the “sleepovers time bomb” for our member organisations. In England, a case involving Mencap has shown that sector organisations may owe £400m in back pay. In Northern Ireland, HMRC are investigating learning disability providers to see if they owe back pay to their staff. If so – this pay has not been funded by the HSC Trusts. Additional funding is essential to pay staff properly.
In England, the Department of Health is urgently gathering information about the extent of the problem. In NI, the Department of Health has not yet replied to our letters asking for clarity of action taken to scope the reality of the situation here. The threat of cuts to social care budgets will only escalate this crisis.
This could be the final straw for the policy that has allowed to people to move from long stay hospitals to live in their own homes. ARC is calling for politicians to ensure that the NI Executive is back up and running so that social care budgets will be protected as an urgent priority.