New research has highlighted that COVID-19 infection control costs could see care providers in the UK facing a bill of an extra £6bn.
Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and maintaining safe staffing levels could see social care providers facing an extra £6.6bn in COVID-19 infection control costs by September, according to the research. The need for enhanced cleaning of care homes and other care settings will further enhance these costs.
The research has been carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), working with the Care Providers Alliance, which commissioned LaingBuisson to produce the analysis to help give the Department of Health and Social Care a detailed estimate of the potential future costs facing the sector.
Extra COVID-19 costs for UK care homes
The findings follow a recent letter from President of ADASS, James Bullion, to the Minister of the Department of Health and Social Care, Helen Whately, raising concerns over the government’s new Infection Control fund – which cannot be used by care providers to pay for PPE.
Bullion said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that social care is essential to the fabric of our society. Social care colleagues and providers have played a pivotal role in ensuring that those of us with care and support needs continue to get the care we need to live our lives.
“This analysis underlines the huge financial pressures being faced by social care providers. Without the right levels of funding and support, providers will no longer be sustainable; safety will be compromised; quality of care will suffer; and people with care and support needs left unsupported. The Government’s number one priority must be to protect social care.”
Findings from the analysis
The analysis, for the months April to September 2020, highlighted that care homes, agencies, and supported living providers may face a potential increase of £1.018bn to maintain safe staffing levels, and that nearly £700m of extra costs could build up due to disinfection overheads. It also highlights the huge burden of the cost of PPE – totalling an extra £4.179bn if detailed guidance is followed on its use and if some current costs of PPE continue
The analysis shows that the costs incurred by providers of services to those who fund their own support could amount to £2.6bn, whilst for those providing services that are funded by local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) could amount to £3.3bn. There may be a further financial pressure of lost revenue of £714 million.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “These figures highlight the sheer scale of the financial pressures facing councils and their social care provider partners as we look to get through the next few weeks and months of this coronavirus crisis.
“People who use and work in social care are at the heart of our concerns about this. This analysis needs to spark a fundamental debate about the ability of the care market to respond to the pandemic and what more can be done to support it.
“Providers are doing an incredible job in the most testing of circumstances.
“Councils are working closely with providers to support their financial resilience. Of the £3.2bn of emergency funding given to councils to deal with the immediate impact of the pandemic across all local services, 40 per cent has been allocated to adult social care.
“We look forward to working with government on finding a solution to the immediate pressures facing the sector, including a significant further injection of funding, as well as agreeing a long-term, sustainable funding settlement for social care once this current crisis is over.”