Major adult social care provider failure

Impact 5
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upper likelihood error bar
risk indicator
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Impact & Likelihood
Impact key
5 Catastrophic
4 Significant
3 Moderate
2 Limited
1 Minor
Likelihood key
5 >25%
4 5-25%
3 1-5%
2 0.2-1%
1 <0.2%


A complex major provider failure (MPF), characterised by the suddenness of the failure and the number of local authorities and individuals affected, could occur for a number of reasons, such as cost pressures or over-indebtedness. If unmitigated, it could harm continuity of care for people with care and support needs.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) Market Oversight Scheme, designed to monitor the financial health of major providers that are difficult to replace, should ensure local authorities are given prior warning that they may need to activate local contingency plans.

In an MPF scenario, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) would also activate robust, sector-wide contingency plans designed to support local authorities (as the commissioners of adult social care) as they work to protect continuity of care.


A complex major provider failure occurring with limited prior warning and impacting a significant number of local authorities and people with care and support needs. In this scenario, due to the scale and complexity of the failure, impacted local authorities might face challenges in discharging their temporary duty to secure continuity of care, putting the welfare of people with care and support needs at risk.

Key assumptions

The scenario assumes a complex major provider failure that involves a significant number of local authorities and large numbers of people with care and support needs. The scenario assumes that CQC, through the Market Oversight Scheme, has given local authorities prior notice that the business is likely to fail and services are likely to cease, and local authorities are in the process of rolling out their contingency plans.

Response capability requirements

The scenario reflects the CQC’s key role – through the Market Oversight Scheme – in giving prior warning to impacted local authorities, ensuring they have sufficient time to discharge their contingency plans and the impacts are mitigated. The scenario is likely to put pressure on local authority resources, including social workers and adult social care commissioners. To support local authorities in discharging their temporary duty, DHSC will also activate its own MPF Contingency Plan. This will focus on convening stakeholders across adult social care – including impacted local authorities, other government departments, commercial experts, NHS England, and other sector partners – to ensure a fully coordinated response to secure continuity of care.


Recovery time would depend on national and local market conditions.