This guidance sets out the actions you should take to prepare for 1 January 2021, to plan for and help manage any potential service disruption to adult social care.

This guidance is for adult social care providers and local authorities. Guidance for healthcare providers is available in How healthcare providers can prepare for 1 January 2021.

Supply of medical products

Read about the government’s plan to introduce import controls on EU goods after 31 December 2020.

If you have any questions, you can contact the relevant government team for your sector:

Managing supply issues locally

How adult social care providers can manage supply problems

If you have a problem with the supply of a product, service or anything else that may stop your business from providing services properly, we recommend you take the following action:

Raise your concern with a local authority representative as soon as you can – this may be your local authority commissioner, contract management contact or quality assurance team. Tell your local authority about your issue whether or not they directly commission you to carry out services.

If you provide services in multiple local authorities, please contact your host local authority. Ask the host authority to tell other local authorities.

If there is a significant risk to the safety or wellbeing of service users, you should also alert your local adult safeguarding hub.

Tell your local care provider association or trade body representative if you have one, about your supply issue. They may already have plans to help with supply problems.

If your service is part of a larger business group, make sure that you tell operational management and the business owners about the problem.

Contact any other branches in your organisation and try to make alternative arrangements.

Ask your supplier about finding alternatives you could use or other ways they can help. Your supplier may already know about the issue and be working to resolve it.

If the problem is with the supply of medicines, tell your community pharmacist who should know the latest on any supply disruption.

What local authorities should do about any adult social care supply issues

  1. See if you can manage the disruption locally as part of your usual processes.
  2. Tell any other local partners that may be affected. This could include neighbouring local authorities, your local Clinical Commissioning Group commissioner or other relevant NHS contacts.
  3. If the issue cannot be resolved at a local level, contact your local resilience forum (LRF) through the local authority representative on the LRF. They may mobilise the major incident response arrangements for your area.

Business continuity plans

Review your business continuity or contingency plans regularly. Make sure they are up to date and consistent with other local contingency plans, in particular those being developed by your local resilience forum.

Make sure you also have plans in place for the months following 1 January 2021, to ensure continuity of care for service users.

How to prepare with suppliers now

Make plans that cover all the supplies you use – from machinery to bed sheets, food and medicine:

  • find out what contingency plans your suppliers have in place
  • think about how you might use different suppliers if you need to
  • include suppliers in your planning
  • consider changing your service level agreements where necessary – you could temporarily stop using specific performance measures to allow suppliers to keep up supply, for example through substituting products


You should review your capacity and activity plans regularly. Your business continuity plans should cover the supply of staff you need to deliver services before and after 1 January 2021.

Make sure you tell any staff and people you care for who are EU citizens about the EU Settlement Scheme. Help them apply if they need support. Use the EU Settlement Scheme employer toolkit for practical advice on helping your employees to apply.

You must notify your local commissioner, director of adult social services and the Care Quality Commission as soon as possible if there is any risk to service delivery.

The EU Settlement Scheme

Through the EU Settlement Scheme, EU nationals can register for settled status if they have been in the UK for 5 years, or pre-settled status if they have been here for less than 5 years.

The scheme is free and it’s simple to register. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.

Find out more about the EU Settlement Scheme.

Irish citizens are not required to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, although there are some circumstances where they may wish to. Non-Irish family members of Irish citizens will need to apply.

Recognition of professional qualifications

EEA and Swiss health and care professionals who are registered and practising before 1 January 2021 will continue to be able to do so from 1 January 2021.

For any professional registration queries, please contact the relevant professional regulator.

Help and who to contact

Contact local care associations:

Published 12 August 2019
Last updated 23 October 2019 
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