Disability charities must adapt or die, says discussion paper

A paper from the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group says cuts, Brexit and the back-pay bill problem make the outlook grim

Disability charities: 'outlook grim'
Disability charities: 'outlook grim'

Disability charities must adapt if they are to survive severe funding cuts and policy changes, according to a discussion paper published today.

Challenges Can Fuel Change is based on views of members of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, which represents more than 80 not-for-profits. Members include Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap and Dimensions.

The paper says that by 2025 there will be 11.7 million disabled people in England compared with 11 million today. It adds that since 2010 adult social care cuts have amounted to £6.3m.

With further spending cuts planned, the looming prospect of Brexit and a possible £400m back-pay bill for charities that use sleep-in carers, the outlook is grim, according to the report.

The paper says 90,000 people from EU countries work in adult social care. One VODG member described Brexit as "catastrophic" when combined with an ageing population and a struggle to recruit young people.

Another member said: "It’s a real challenge and a real worry for us as to actually how we’re going to staff our services."

The publication, which is a contribution to Civil Society Futures, the national independent inquiry into the future of the voluntary sector, says the voluntary adult social care sector could be stronger if disabled people were more involved in decision-making.

It also suggests the sector could become an independent counterbalance to the establishment and urges commissioners to become less risk-averse.

However, it also highlights fears organisations that receive statutory funding are reluctant to criticise government, as well as concerns about increased bureaucracy and commissioning being too focused on systems rather than people.

Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the VODG, said organisations were operating in difficult times.

"Social care organisations have no choice but to transform, from embracing new technology to adopting new approaches to working with people and their families," he said.

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