A glass of Pimms, lashings of cream on fresh strawberries and some Wimbledon Centre Court action – all quintessentially British activities this time of year. A time of year I generally love. But, not this year, I must say I am feeling rather flat and confused.

I am still deeply shocked at the UK vote to leave the European Union and what that means for us as citizens in all walks of our life and of course what it means for our sector. But democracy rules and that needs to be respected. However, during this time of unadulterated uncertainty one thing is for sure – no one knows what it truly means and what impact it is going to have on us.

As the politicians continue to squabble amongst themselves and those who venomously backed the ‘Leave Campaign’ seem to now treat the whole thing as a hot potato, it is quite clear what the biggest concerns are for the social care workforce and the potential impact on Local Authority funding to fill George Osborne’s forecasted economic ‘Black-hole’.

I don’t mean to sound negative, I know we don’t have a crystal ball or yet understand how it will all unfold. The reality is though that the social care sector sits on a knife-edge already, and further funding cuts or depletion of the potential workforce will hit hard.

I have communicated with all ARC England members to ask them to tell us what they foresee as their immediate risks and challenges. We will support them wherever we can and we are in discussions with other Sector partners and Stakeholders to look at some joined up working. I have had some feedback already. Phil Morris, CEO of Havencare in Plymouth emailed me and said: “…we now need to move on and find opportunities in new leadership narrative to realise the potential of the sector and invite-in new thinking. We need to be especially keen to draw new system leadership and innovation into the sector, maybe with better links in further education provision, ‘silicon technology’ and the private/commercial sector to support new service design and delivery. As always, this sector is consistently challenging, nerve-shredding, but hopeful. After all – hope is the antidote to fear – and we are obliged to find it in any difficulties (even impossibilities) that we face! Working together will be key…”. I agree wholeheartedly with Phil’s sentiments.

Esther Oddy, our Membership and Services Officer, attended the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) members meeting on Wednesday, where ‘Brexit’ was, inevitably, high on the agenda. The group was encouraged to think about the likely implications for the provision of care and, more importantly, for the people receiving care. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were a lot of ideas (and some fears!) emerging, but also a general sense of mutual agreement in the room that we really need to reach a position of greater understanding and more clarity before we can define a clear ‘rallying’ point or plan of action. So much is unknown.

Initial thoughts from the providers and alliance members obviously included the potential impact on the workforce – further difficulty to fill vacancies being potentially around the corner in terms of EU migration could put untold pressure on the already struggling social care sector.

Some interesting ideas also came up… perhaps there is some possibility of arguing for an exception to legislation for care workers, given the bleak picture already set by the care crisis? And maybe (just maybe!) it’s not all doom and gloom – together we need to invest our energy now in making sure we influence those with political power and there could be a positive change in ideologies and new roles in Government.

One thing is clear, after receiving such drastic and significant news, we are still waiting to see what’s around the corner!

Lisa Lenton
ARC England Director