Contracts, pay and mergers worry care sector chiefs

Holding on to contracts, meeting demands for increased pay and considering mergers are the top concerns for the leaders of housing and social care charities, according to recent research.

Consultancy Cordis Bright surveyed 40 leaders of voluntary organisations with turnovers of at least £18m, mostly in housing and residential care for vulnerable adults. Just under half expected to be involved in a merger in the next three years. Sixty-seven per cent expected to be lead partner if a merger did take place.

Ninety-one per cent of respondents said that winning new contracts from rival charities presented a key opportunity for growth, but 79 per cent were convinced they could hold on to contracts.

One in three said third sector design and delivery of public services offered a massive opportunity for growth, but 78 per cent of chief executives said their work suffered from poor commissioning.

Wage demands were a key concern for 88 per cent of the respondents and the ability to retain the best staff was a concern for 84 per cent.

David Wolverson, chief executive of learning disability provider New Dimensions Group, who contributed to the survey, said talk of mergers was a response to pressures on the sector caused by commissioners seeking fewer providers and an increasingly complex tendering process. “Tendering calls for bigger and bigger organisations – merging is the way to compete,” he said.

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