United Response is a charity which provides care and support to around 3000 people in community settings, many of whom are among the most vulnerable in our society and need access to specialist round the clock care to keep them safe and well. 

Like the majority of community-based social care providers, United Response is commissioned to provide sleep-in shifts as a fundamental part of our night-time provision, this approach enables people who often have complex and multiple needs to live safely and independently in the community, and without the need for hospital based care.

The Government’s position on the interpretation of regulations around the National Living Wage is causing huge confusion. As a result, the delivery of community-based services for people with learning disabilities, which are proven to work well, is under real threat, with providers across the social care sector facing huge uncertainty over their future financial viability. This cannot continue, Government knows the steps that must be taken and should act decisively now to resolve the threat to services for people with a learning disability.

We are calling on the Government to show strong leadership to protect services for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Three straightforward measures will provide the security that is needed:

  1. HMRC should suspend enforcement action on sleep-ins until a resolution is reached, protecting current services.
  2. Government should confirm that it will fund providers to meet any back pay liabilities for sleep in shifts, estimated as in excess of £400m.
  3. Government should provide clear guidance on paying for sleep-in shifts for the future and how these costs will be met, estimated as £200m p.a. and rising.


Tim Cooper, CEO United Response


What is a sleep-in shift?

A sleep-in shift is when a member of staff is paid to sleep at a service overnight, and is available to work if called upon.

As staff are almost always able to have an uninterrupted night’s sleep during a sleep-in, these shifts have historically been paid at a flat rate rather than at the National Living (or Minimum) Wage. Should an emergency occur and a staff member be woken, they were then paid the appropriate hourly rate for their time worked.