Hft, a national charity for people with learning disabilities, reveals the shocking reality of how the National Living Wage (NLW), which becomes law in April 2016, will impact on the already vulnerable lives of people with learning disabilities and is calling for people to sign their petition to George Osborne calling for action to address the shortfall in funds.

The charity estimates that by 2030 the number of people with learning disabilities will have increased by 240,000 (Source: National Institute of Health Research) and this will have a devastating effect on a care system which is already struggling particularly in poorer areas. An unfunded NLW will leave a funding shortfall in the sector of up to £1.3bn by 2020. For charities like Hft the costs will be crippling.

  • By 2020 Hft’s pay costs will have risen by £7.2m due to the impact of the NLW
  • The cost of an average support person working a 37.5 hour week will rise by 71% over 6 years

There are 1.1 million people with learning disabilities in the UK. This ranges from people with mild to moderate needs and those with complex conditions requiring care 24/7.

Fees from Local Authorities have been steadily decreasing and the 2% precept announced in November’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) was optional and not ring-fenced to learning disability support. As a result it will simply not be enough to address the shortfall.

Hft strongly supports the payment of a National Living Wage but is concerned that it represents a huge unfunded increase to the charity’s costs. 

Health inequalities

Research has shown that people with learning disabilities suffer significant inequality in health outcomes due to poor and late diagnosis, early onset dementia and difficulties in accessing mainstream medical services. On average men with learning disabilities die 13 years sooner and women with learning disabilities 20 years sooner than those without learning disabilities. Reduced funding to support this group will only exacerbate this issue.

Protecting choice around service provision

‘Creating a sustainable and vibrant market’ is a statutory obligation of the Care Act 2014 for Local Authorities. Without adequate funding for the NLW, learning disability providers will fail, reducing market choice.

Hft is highlighting the need for central Government to address this shortfall in funding to avoid service closures and protect the care needs of some of the most vulnerable people in society. The charity is calling for people to sign their petition to raise learning disabilities to the top of the public agenda and secure the kind of change the sector needs to continue to provide quality outcomes.

Robert Longley-Cook, CEO of Hft said: “I am 100% behind the NLW and recognise that our staff are fundamental in providing quality support and deserve to be paid more to reflect this.

The NLW, if properly funded, could be a great step forward in addressing this issue. However, we really need to raise public awareness that the NLW must be properly funded by the Government and local authority budgets need to be increased accordingly. Without additional funding the sector is under significant threat, providers will fail and it will be the people who we are working so hard to support who will be most at risk. For those with the most critical and substantial needs the removal of specialist support will increase their risk of suffering physical or psychological harm with potentially life-threatening consequences.”

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country.  This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own homes, providing employment services to help people develop skills and experience for work and helping people to pursue hobbies, make new friends and get involved in their local communities.

To sign the petition, please go to bit.ly/NLWshortfall

To find out more about the campaign please go online to www.hft.org.uk/it-doesnt-add-up