Scottish councils avert care home crisis after agreeing charges riseÉ

The threat of a Scottish-wide ban on all local
authority referrals to independent care homes receded last week
after local authorities found funds to add to money already on
offer from the Scottish executive.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
had previously insisted that councils could not afford to make any
contribution to the agreed increase of £50 per resident per
week, costed at £50m a year. The Scottish executive had
proposed funds of £24m towards the total (News, page 12, 7

But after a Cosla summit last week, local
authorities agreed to contribute £3m this year. This will
allow fees to increase by £27 per resident per week from 1

The Scottish executive has promised that the
£50 per week per resident will be fully funded from 2003-4,
but has not yet said how.

Scottish Care, the umbrella organisation that
represents 800 private care home owners, will now meet to consider
the revised offer on fees. It refused to comment on the likely
outcome, but early signs suggest that it will be accepted.

Scottish Care has long accused local
authorities of spending government grants intended for the care of
older people on other services.

Its claims are supported by two reports,
published last month, which conclude that 10 per cent of funds
allocated for older people’s services are being spent

The Care Development Group report states that
the £63m gap “highlights the difficulty the executive has in
ensuring that the priority it attaches to older people’s services
is reflected at a local level in every part of Scotland”.

It adds: “We suspect that, in the past, home
care services have been an area where it has been possible to defer
new investment and from which new money has been diverted to other
areas of council budgets.”

The second report, by an independent group
chaired by Scottish Ambulance Services chairperson Owen Clarke,
reached similar conclusions.

Opposition politicians have now called for the
Scottish executive to safeguard money allocated for services to
older people’s care by ring- fencing all such funds. But a
spokesperson for the executive said there were no current plans to
introduce any such change.

Fair Care For Older People from the
Care Development Group at  

….but Welsh homes threaten action

Several care home owners in Wales have
rejected fee increases proposed by councils and have threatened to
withdraw from contracts.

The Welsh Local Government Association has
asked owners to pull back while discussions are held with the Welsh
assembly. It said issuing ultimatums was unacceptable because of
the distress and uncertainty caused to residents and relatives.

WLGA leader councillor Sir Harry Jones said
the increases demanded were well above fee assumptions made by the
assembly in calculating the local government settlement and social
services specific grants for 2002-3, and could only be met “by
cutting other valuable services”.

He added that local government remained
committed to working with the independent sector to identify
measures to ease the pressures.

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