According to a report by the IPPR, social care’s large corporate business model is financially unsustainable and detrimental to quality. Evidence shows that the model has led to less training for staff, higher turnover and lower pay which have the knock-on effect of a deteriorating quality of care. The financial instability is best demonstrated by two of the big five providers going into administration in recent years.
The IPPR suggests two solutions: that the state steps in and takes over, or “innovative not-for-profit providers” do. If the UK could replicate the effective social care sectors of nations such as Italy and Japan, the latter option in the form of co-operatives would be the preferable option.
In Bologna, social care co-operatives account for 85% of care services for children, the elderly, the poor, the disabled and other vulnerable people. These multi-stakeholder co-ops allow vulnerable people to receive affordable care within their community, exceeding state and corporate alternatives in their outcomes – for example, these co-operatives provide superior care at 50% of the cost of state programmes. As these co-operatives receive their incomes from a mixture of sources, this would provide a mark decreased in costs for both the taxpayer and those needing care. The sector is also very stable, benefitting from the resilience of the co-operative ownership structure which means that co-operatives are able to provide long-term, affordable care.