Anger Over Funding Shortfall

A leading care charity has today hit out at the Government over shortfalls in funding for commissioned services.

Sue Ryder Care has revealed Primary Care Trusts, Social Services and other commissioners are not paying the full costs of the health and social care services they commission from the charity, forcing it to use donations to plug the funding gaps.

The charity, which provides long-term neurological and palliative care, believes donations should be used to develop new, innovative care services, but revealed they are actually being used to cover the state’s shortfall. Sue Ryder Care has claimed its state commissioned services were under-funded by £7 million last year.

Despite a 2002 Government report – “Cross Cutting Review: The Role of the Voluntary Sector in Service Delivery” – which said charities would get “full cost recovery” by April 2006, Sue Ryder Care said the voluntary sector was labouring under worse contracting conditions than public and private care providers.

While the Government hopes to encourage the voluntary sector to play a greater role in providing care services, in practice local commissioners were not sticking to its principles of fair and effective contracting, the charity said.

Through its “We Care: Who Pays?” campaign Sue Ryder Care is calling on the Government to recognise that voluntary care providers should be able to recover full costs from statutory funding and to introduce measures to ensure that local commissioners accept this. It also wants all donations to be used to develop new services, maintain facilities and offer extra support services instead of meeting statutory shortfalls.

Sue Ryder Care’s director of healthcare, Stephen Collinson, said: “We have serious concerns that without firm commitment from Government to place the onus on local commissioners to change the way they contract with charities, then increasing the voluntary sector’s capacity to provide services in support of national health reform, will be extremely difficult.

“It is dismaying that many reports from voluntary sector and Government-affiliated bodies, the latest of which is the Public Accounts Committee report ‘Working with the Voluntary Sector’, continue to highlight the same issues around funding. We continue to hear the same rhetorical messages from central Government and have had two issues of ‘The Compact’ code of practice published and the Third Sector Taskforce, yet on the ground there is little real change in practice.

“Sue Ryder Care provides specialist health and social care services to a high quality in a highly state-regulated environment. Yet we are forced to operate under antiquated funding practices that neither the public nor private sectors would accept. We are constantly striving to integrate and work in partnership with the state to offer the best care, but on this fundamental issue we are not being supported.

“We could be making an even greater difference to people’s lives through our voluntary donations if the state paid its fair share. £7 million would mean that we could develop more services that meet the real needs of local communities.”

Sue Ryder Care cares for people with long-term illnesses and conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, Huntingdon’s disease, brain injury and dementia. For more information visit