Despite funding for the care sector being in a serious state, the Chancellor prescribed it no new funds in the Autumn Budget.

Top 30 advisory firm and care sector specialist Bishop Fleming warns that this “nil by mouth” prescription is in danger of inducing a critical condition in care homes provision.

The firm, which delivers accounting, tax, corporate restructuring and advisory services to care homes and businesses and private wealth advice to individuals, states the Chancellor must inject new funds into the struggling care sector to cover increases in the National Living Wage, pension auto-enrolment, nursing shortages and a stricter regulatory regime.

The Autumn Budget promised additional money for the NHS and nurses’ pay (conditional on agreeing new contracts), though offered no extra funding for social care. This was in contrast to the March 2017 Budget which committed an extra £2bn to social care over a two-year period. A forthcoming green paper, as promised in the government’s June election manifesto, holds out the possibility of reform at some time in the future.

But Bishop Fleming Partner Tim Godfrey, who heads the firm’s care home sector team, said: “The Budget was a missed opportunity to redress the social care funding gap. The only positive news was a moratorium giving care providers 15 months to pay arrears of national minimum wage to workers who sleep over in looking after their patients, the arrears having arisen in the first place through incorrect government advice - though frustratingly it offered no extra money to resolve a problem of its own making.”

Mr Godfrey hoped that the promised green paper on social care would provide clarity on how the government intends to proceed, and give hope that the situation would improve. But stressed that real action was needed now rather than later.

Earlier this year it was reported that some care home providers were handing back their contracts to local authorities as their businesses were becoming unviable.

The Bishop Fleming Partner explained: “There is an acute problem of dwindling resources in parts of the social care sector due to austerity cuts and increased wage and regulatory costs. If the sector is not only going to survive but also grow to address the needs of an ageing population, we need a clear joined-up approach from the government on caring for the elderly.”

He added: “Without funding, the care sector will not be able to maintain staff numbers and current standards of care.”

 
 
 
 
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