Councils should not pay below-inflation fee increases to independent care homes solely to meet efficiency targets, the Department of Health has said.
The DH made the statement in response to claims from umbrella body the English Community Care Association that increasing numbers of councils were failing to increase fees in line with inflation this year.
ECCA called on the government to step in to revise fee offers to a minimum meeting the current retail price index measure of inflation, which was 4.2% in April, and to ensure local authorities “did not behave in a similar fashion” next year.
Adass: Low increases ‘may be justifiable’
However, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services claimed low increases “may be entirely justifiable” in some cases given “challenging” government efficiency targets.
Responding to ECCA’s claims, a DH spokesperson said the government “did not interfere” in negotiations between councils and providers, but added: “Nowhere has the government suggested that efficiencies can be met [by authorities] by not paying inflation based increases to their suppliers.”
The spokesperson added: ‘There are some examples where providers have offered to deliver efficiencies but this has been part of local negotiations.”
Sarah Pickup, co-chair of the Adass resources network, said there were better ways of working with the independent sector to achieve efficiencies than keeping down fee increases, but she added council fee increases were influenced by market conditions as well as inflation.