Homecare system broken, says former government policy adviser

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An ex-government policy adviser has described Britain's homecare system as broken as his firm sees an uptick in struggling councils seeking its help.

Supercarers founder Adam Pike said the system is up against funding cuts, a shortage of nurses and carers, and a "truly terrifying" rise in demand for care driven by an ageing population.

"The homecare system is broken. It's broken for families, broken for the people that need the care, and it's also broken for the people who provide care," Mr Pike told the Press Association.

He said his company - an online platform which matches families to home carers at a standard rate of £14 an hour - is gaining attention from hard-pressed councils "desperately seeking new ways to find support for their elderly populations".

"We have local authorities who have approached us, and we have direct payment recipients - who are our customers who are receiving direct payments from their local authorities," he explained.

Mr Pike, who founded Supercarers with his brother Daniel in 2015, also serves individuals failing to qualify for public funds.

UK residents with assets worth more than £23,000 do not receive Government assistance in paying for full-time care, he said, while "more and more money" is being focused only on those with "critical or substantial needs".

"The vast majority of people who have low or moderate needs don't get any support, which in my view is strategically naive because people who have low or moderate needs today will have critical needs tomorrow."

He spoke during a week when health service managers warned that the NHS has reached a tipping point, and that it is time the Government accepted that "limited investment" has "consequences".

Mr Pike said his time as a social care policy adviser to the Cabinet Office in 2012, and his stint as a consultant for the Treasury when he later joined Deloitte, shaped the way he runs the business.

"I left the Cabinet Office and Treasury because I felt that change needed to come from outside, and often when you're in government you are separate to what is happening in communities and in families."

But he expects to work closely with the public sector in future.

"We're talking more and more with local authorities, we're talking more and more with NHS trusts."

Supercarers won a vote of confidence through a fresh £1.2 million funding round backed by the likes of VoucherCodes.co.uk co-founder Duncan Jennings and Virgin Mobile co-founder Joe Steel.

It adds to a growing list of investors including JamJar Investments - the venture capital fund run by the founders of juice company Innocent - and brings Supercarers' funding total to £2.6 million.

The company says it has delivered more than 90,000 hours of care through the platform, which is run by 18 staff who connect around 400 carers to families in the UK.

It forecasts that £4 million worth of services will be purchased through the platform this year, growing to £12.5 million in 2018.

That leaves Supercarers - which takes a 20% cut from carers' fees - expecting revenues of around £1 million for 2017 and £2.5 million the following year.

Mr Pike says he hopes the firm will break even by 2018.