'Up to 30,000 jobs under threat' in learning disability sector

Research from the disabilities charity Hft says hundreds of millions of pounds of additional investment is needed, in part because the national living wage will add £460m to wage bill by 2020

Learning difficulties: sector strapped for cash
Learning difficulties: sector strapped for cash

Up to 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector – about 10 per cent of the total workforce – could be lost over the next four years unless hundreds of millions of pounds of additional funding is found, a new report warns.

The publication, commissioned by the learning disabilities charity Hft and based on research by the business consultancy Cebr, says that cost increases because of the national living wage will add an extra £460m to wage bills in the learning disability sector by 2020.

The report, called It Doesn’t Add Up: The Financial Crisis Crippling the Social Care Sector, says a funding increase of at least 5 per cent a year is needed in order for organisations in the sector to break even.

Researchers found that 55 per cent of respondents said their organisations would run into deficit within three years without additional funding.

A third of providers said they had already cut back on staff, and almost half had started to cut back on future investment.

Wage bills account for between 60 and 80 per cent of total spend in the learning disability sector, a spokesman for Hft said.

The report, which will be launched at an event in parliament tomorrow, is part of the charity’s ongoing It Doesn’t Add Up campaign, set up to raise awareness of the funding pressures faced by social care providers because of the national living wage not being properly factored in to local authority commissioning rates.

The charity wants people to show their support for the campaign using the hashtag #GiveMe5.

Robert Longley-Cook, chief executive of Hft, said the charity wholeheartedly supported the introduction of the national living wage.

"However, we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level," he said. "The social care sector is an industry facing increasing demands and decreasing margins.

"This situation is simply unsustainable and could ultimately lead to some of the most vulnerable adults in society ending up without the vital support that they need."

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