Care homes fees dispute in Scotland could be over

The dispute over private care home fees could finally be over
after local authorities found funds to add to a proposed increase
by the Scottish executive, writes Reg

The private care home owners’ bid for an increase of
£50 per resident per week had looked set to result in a
national ban on all council-funded referrals. The new fee levels
would have cost £50 million per year. While the Scottish
executive had offered to meet £24 million of the total, the
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities had insisted that councils
could find no contribution.

But after a Cosla summit last weekend, local authorities have
now agreed to contribute £3 million for this year. This would
allow for fees to increase by £27 per resident per week from 1
April while being fully funded from 2003-04.

Pat Watters, president of Cosla, said: “Local authorities will
now reluctantly make a considerable amount of money available to
help find a resolution to this dispute.”

Scottish Care, the umbrella organisation which represents 800 of
private care home owners, has been critical of local
authorities’ use of government grants earmarked for the care
of older people on other services. Last week, Cosla acknowledged
that council funds had to be diverted to meet shortfalls in
providing other essential services, particularly child care.

Joe Campbell, chief executive of Scottish Care, said: “The
£3 million on offer is not a large sum given that Cosla lost
or misplaced more than £50 million out of the £640
million allocated to them for community care last year.”

Scottish Care will now meet to consider the revised offer on
fees. While the organisation could not comment on the likely
outcome of their deliberations, the signs are that the new fees
will be accepted and the threat of a ban on all new council-funded
referrals removed.

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