Independent care providers have called a proposal by North Yorkshire Council to increase its fees by just 1% this year a ‘slap in the face’ in the context of rising utility and labour costs.
The Independent Care Group, an association of independent providers in York and North Yorkshire, is calling for a 6.75% increase in fee rates over the next financial year to keep pace with increased costs.
An ICG report outlining the financial pressures faced by independent care providers was submitted to the council prior to the offer. It revealed that many care homes had been hit hard by increased utility costs, in some cases leading to a 46% rise in expenditure on heating alone.
Holiday entitlement and minimum wage rises
Employers have also had to find money to fund an extra four days’ statutory holiday entitlement, following a change in the law in April last year. In addition the minimum wage is due to go up again in October.
ICG director John Fisher said: “How are we to maintain our clients with insufficient funds? This year the council will give its staff a 2.4% wage increase. We would like to do the same for our staff, but they are preventing us from doing this.”
ICG vice-chair Tony Conroy said the offer was an “insult”. He added: “We cannot cut staff or heating or food for people, and if we are providing home care we cannot cut staff or petrol costs. The sector needs real help in financial terms if it is to continue to look after state-funded clients.”
In a statement issued in response to the outcry, the council acknowledged the 1% uplift would be “challenging” for residential and nursing homes and domiciliary care providers. The council said the tough settlement had been necessitated by central government demands for efficiency savings and growing demand for care services.
The statement continued: “However, the authority feels that given the circumstances it is a reasonable position to take in today’s economic climate.”
Director of adult and community services Derek Law said the council would the monitor the impact of the rise and work with providers experiencing difficulties.