Talks are to start with councils to relieve the pressure on care home providers which are required to maintain service quality despite real-terms fee cuts.
The discussions between the National Care Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services follow concerns raised at yesterday’s NCA annual conference about widespread fee freezes and cuts in some areas of 15%, sometimes without consultation.
Care homes in England are facing rising costs from higher Care Quality Commission fees and increases in the minimum wage.
“We need answers on cutting fees,” said NCA chief executive Sheila Scott. “We need to talk to them about what’s essential to the service and what isn’t,”
Scott said many providers were struggling to continue a full service for clients, while others were having to make cuts.
She said she had agreed with Adass president Peter Hay to have talks about managing councils’ fees.
With councils facing an estimated funding gap of at least £2bn a year for adult care in England, Hay warned NCA delegates that no more money was available to pay providers.
“There’s no more money coming so if you come to the table feeling as if you want to stay as you are [in terms of fees] it won’t be well received [by councils] but if you get in a strategic conversation about where you are and how it can be reformed then it’s all to be played for,” he said. “Both sides have to construct it in that mutual way.”
Hay acknowledged some authorities had failed to discuss fee changes with providers.
However, he said councils had been hampered by not knowing until late on in 2010-11 what the funding settlement for the next financial year would be.
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