A Care England study into council fees has shown that local authorities are failing to keep pace with rising costs, causing many care homes to have to make difficult decisions. Providers are facing the choice of either closing their service or refusing council placements, despite increasing numbers of vulnerable people requiring places.
One in five councils have given no increase in fees they pay for 2018/19, despite cost and wage bills rising by up to 5%, according to the Care England study into council fees. Where providers are having to turn away council placements, this in turn is increasing the pressure on the struggling NHS.
Care England contacted every council across England with a Freedom of Information request, asking them to provide details on their base rates for older people's care home and care home with nursing placements in 2018/19.
Of the councils who did reply to the request, one in five made no increase in the baseline rate for care home with nursing beds; 18% of councils reported that they gave no increase for nursing with dementia beds; and 22% of councils reported no increase for residential care home beds, including residential care beds for older people with dementia. This is all in spite of an increase in the number of people requesting places.
Examples where councils made offers that fell short include:
- Staffordshire, which offered a 1% increase for existing placements only.
- Haringey, with no automatic uplift in fees.
- Bath and North East Somerset, which only offered a 1% uplift.
The analysis involved in putting together the Care England study into council fees also showed a projected 7.5% jump in the number of older people in care homes by 2020. This would require an extra 33,000 staff at a cost of an additional £581m.
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, said, 'These councils pay care homes just £350 a week for 24 hour care, seven days a week. By failing to properly fund their care, they are abandoning old people. To give no real increase in fees when costs have risen by over 4% is an insult.
'Our society is institutionally ageist. Older people are treated like a problem to be tolerated rather than something to be cherished.
'You just cannot run a care home and give the optimum amount of care on a pittance. No wonder care homes are closing and there is a growing crisis in the number of places for the elderly.'
The Independent Care Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham said, 'I welcome Care England’s campaign pointing out that today we see evidence that the country is not equipped to look after our oldest and most vulnerable adults. Councils are not keeping pace with the cost of providing care and so care homes are being forced to close or cut back on provision. The Government should fund local authorities adequately so they can discharge their responsibilities.
'The 1.4 million people currently living without care is a national disgrace and that figure is only set to increase.
'We are promised that the Green Paper on social care should be published ‘before April’. But given that it has been delayed at least four times so far and the continuing wrangling over Brexit, that looks less and less likely.
'The situation is becoming intolerable. With care homes closing and homecare providers handing back unviable contracts, more and more people aren’t getting the care they need. For the sake of the 1.4 million people who aren’t getting care and the many more who will join them this year, we can’t allow that to continue another day more.'