Sixty second interview
With Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Homes Association.
By Amy Taylor
The government announced last week that there will be a 20 per cent increase in the Commission for Social Care Inspection’s care home registration fees (taking them from £1,584 to £1,901) and annual inspection fees (taking them from £216 to £259 a year) from April 2005.
What do you think about this announcement?
Announcements such as these are thrown at the sector with frightening regularity and the justification for them seldom reflects the true picture. Providers continue to work with the government to deliver quality services and promote the protection of vulnerable people agenda. When the Criminal Records Bureau hike was announced it was set against the background of a troubled and failing system and once again we are faced with a hike when the system of inspection remains flawed, inconsistent and oppressive.
What do you think the consequences of the increases might be?
The consequences I believe, will be that the providers (the customer paying for the service) will have yet another financial burden put upon them which cannot easily be factored into the cost of the service we provide. I fear we may find another flutter of closures, perhaps that is what the ultimate plan is, but is it what we need at a time when we face the prospects of an ageing population?
National Care Homes Association will continue to raise the issues with the minister at every opportunity. No-one wants to see the cost of the Commission spiral out of control and we would like to raise the issue of the quality of the service providers receive in return. Glossy literature and consultations don’t mean anything if the doorstep service is poor!
Has the government consulted the care home sector before announcing these measures?
The government has said that the increases for 2005-06 are to move towards a position where the recurrent costs of providing regulation are fully recovered from service providers. Do you think this justifies the increases or do you think the cost of inspection should come out of the public purse?
Whilst we have consistently been advised of the government’s position on the funding of CSCI, we have to be confident that the independent sector is only paying for its own regulation and not subsidising other services that the CSCI provides.
The government also says that it is working with public providers of care to ensure they understand regulatory costs are a legitimate part of the cost of providing care and need to be reflected in fees. Are you optimistic that councils will be prepared to meet the increased costs?
NCHA would like to feel confident that this would happen, however history would suggest that the minister would need to incorporate this into some form of legislation.