Hft, a national charity that supports adults with learning disabilities, has warned that further unfunded increases in the National Living Wage could have devastating consequences for the social care sector. In their response to the Low Pay Commission consultation, the charity has highlighted that unfunded increases in the National Living Wage has led to a sector-wide funding shortfall of £380 million in 2016, which would increase to £1.3 billion in 2020.

According to Hft research, commissioned as part of the charity’s It Doesn’t Add Up campaign, 96% of organisations within the learning disability sector cite rising wage bills as their biggest financial pressure. Unless a sustainable funding solution is found, 55% of the sector expect to be running at a deficit within the next three years. A further 20% claim that they will be running at a deficit in the next five years. Hft has warned that this could ultimately result in 30,000 jobs being lost from the sector by 2020.

Billy Davis, Public Affairs & Policy Manager, commented: “Hft supports the principle of the National Living Wage, which will see our staff get paid more for the valuable work that they do in supporting some of the most vulnerable adults in society.

“However, the rising wage levels are not being factored into the rates that organisations like Hft are being given to provide this support. The ensuing shortfall is having a profound effect on the financial stability of the learning disability sector. A sustainable funding solution is urgently needed in order to help a sector which CQC has concluded is now at a financial tipping point.”

To find out more about Hft’s It Doesn’t Add Up campaign, please visit www.hft.org.uk/shortfall