Intervention is required to prevent the collapse of social care from rising energy costs.
The Five Nations Care Forum, which comprises of care associations from Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is calling for urgent intervention in the energy crisis in social care.
Rightfully, there have been many stories in the media about the sharp increase in energy costs for domestic consumers. However, the increases in energy costs will lead many vulnerable older people who desperately need a Winter of warmth to place themselves in situations of risk to health and wellbeing. The increases have already placed tens of thousands of citizens into real fuel poverty.
Little attention has been given to the effect of energy price increases on care homes and homecare organisations. The astronomical increases in energy bills have led to many care homes closing. Rising fuel costs have also meant that homecare organisations are closing their doors to new business, and handing back care packages.
Some of our most vulnerable people in care and supported housing are excluded from the various measures in place to support people living in their own homes with their increasing energy costs, such as the £400 energy rebate. There needs to be parity for the individuals living in care and support.
Social care and support providers are facing eye-watering increases in excess of 400% in their energy costs, both gas and electricity costs, which is simply unsustainable. The current energy crisis comes at a time when the sector is experiencing the worst workforce pressures the sector has ever known. Care and support providers are in a position where they must be able to offer better pay and rewards to retain and recruit staff, which is a direct impact of the pandemic.
Without assistance and funding, the rising costs will lead to many more care providers shutting down and ceasing the delivery of care. Staff will lose their jobs and local communities will lose vital care services. For care homes, the loss of home, familiarity and shared company will be devastating for affected residents. And trauma caused by care home closures can have a life-shortening effect. Some of the UK’s and Ireland’s most vulnerable citizens will effectively lose their homes and will have to move to the local hospital or another care facility.
Social care enables people to return home from the hospital and receive adequate care and support, stopping unnecessary admission. A rise in care home and homecare closures will result in real pressure on the NHS. With hospitals already overburdened, they will be unable to cope with delayed discharges, hence having a negative and dramatic impact on those who need NHS treatment and care. If social care collapses because of the energy crisis, then the NHS will follow soon after.
The current energy crisis presents a very real threat to the sustainability of social care delivery. Social care services provide a vital public service to the most vulnerable in our communities but have been largely ignored through the packages of support offered to the nation in dealing with the cost-of-living crisis. There is also a need to treat this care energy crisis with the same degree of emergency financial intervention as was received during the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, the Five Nations Care Forum calls on the Governments of the UK and Ireland to attend to this issue as a matter of urgency by:
- Issuing emergency funding to the social care sector to deal with the rising energy bills
- Introducing an energy price cap for care settings in line with the domestic energy price cap.
- Extending that allvulnerable people have access to energy rebates , including those who have made their home in residential homes or supported living.
- Ensuring any tax based reform applies to energy bills in a way that incorporates all care settings.
About the Five Nations Care Forum
The 5 Nations Care Forum is an alliance of professional associations representing the care sector across the UK and Ireland. Through a collective commitment to information sharing, joint lobbying, shared learning and support, the 5 Nations Care Forum aims to add value to members’ activity by promoting the interests of service recipients, staff and service providers. The Forum seeks to encourage the development of a joined-up approach to matters which have a UK-wide or European dimension.