Home care companies are quitting council contracts due to a chronic shortage of staff and lack of funding, according to an investigation.
As hospitals struggle to cope with growing numbers of older patients, a BBC Panorama investigation has revealed a nationwide shortage of home-care workers.
“These figures show the enormous strain providers are under”
Domiciliary care company owners told the programme they were struggling to recruit carers because they cannot afford to pay them enough, while others were handing back council contracts because they were not financially viable.
Care firms have cancelled contracts with 95 UK councils, saying they cannot deliver services for the amount they are being paid, the investigation found.
The figure for the number of cancelled contracts comes from a Freedom of Information request, which was responded to by 197 of 212 UK councils.
According to the research, 69 home care companies have closed in the last three months and one in four of the UK’s 2,500 home care companies is at risk of insolvency.
The Local Government Association said historic under-funding in adult social care, an ageing population and the National Living Wage were pushing the “care provider market to the brink of collapse”.
“These figures show the enormous strain providers are under, and emphasises the urgent need for a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care funding crisis,” she said Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board.
The government announced in the budget last week that councils would receive a further £2bn in funding for social care over the next three years.
They will receive £1bn this year, followed by £674m in 2018-19 and £337m in 2019-20.
But Ms Seccombe said the additional funding was “just a starting point” and that a long-term solution was needed that both reformed and fully funded care system.
“There is already an expectation that the money will reduce the immediate pressure on the NHS,” she said. “But it is desperately needed to protect vital support services, like home care.
“With councils facing further funding pressures and growing demand for support by the end of the decade, this is the last chance we have to get this right,” she added.