New figures from Care England show the state of council funding of older people's care.
Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, has a list of 30 councils that pay under £500 per week for an older person in an independent (charitable or private) care home, equivalent to just £2.97 per hour.
In addition, Care England identified that council funding of older people's care was radically lower than the levels put forward in independent research by LaingBuisson, which set out the average costs of an economically-run residential home. The LaingBuisson analysis found the cost of an economically-run home was between £623 to £726 depending on standard of accommodation and whether or not the homes is supporting people living with dementia.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says, 'It is unacceptable that independent care homes must restrict the pay and conditions of their staff and subsidise care which councils under-fund. Ultimately, independent care homes may close with the terrible consequences of residents forced to find new homes and staff losing their jobs.'
Care England's Freedom of Information analysis has also shown that some councils within the 30 local authorities which were paying less than £500 to independent care homes were at the same time giving their own local authority-run homes much higher rates. For example, one council was found to be giving over £650 per week to their own homes, compared to less than £500 to the independent sector homes.
Martin Green continues, 'It cannot be right that older people in independent homes are treated so differently when they are aiming, as all independent homes are, to provide good quality care with well-paid staff. The recently announced significantly increased 2020/21 rates for the National Minimum Wage will put even more stress on underfunded homes and means [that] paying homes under £500 for residential care can simply no longer be justified.'
Care England has written to all of these 30 councils to ask how they plan to ensure care is better funded in future.