Home care leaders today revealed what they saw as the minimum price councils should be paying for their services, amid concerns that many commissioners are driving fees down below the costs providers face.
The United Kingdom Homecare Association calculated that providers should be paid a minimum £15.19 per hour of home care they deliver in order to provide all staff with the minimum wage, but no more.
Though the UKHCA stressed this was a minimum, it is broadly equivalent to the average fee paid to external providers by councils in 2012-13, £14.90, as recorded by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Separately, a BBC investigation has found that just 4 out of 101 councils paid at least £15.19 as a minimum rate to external providers, with an average minimum rate of £12.26.
In its paper, the UKHCA warned that councils were using their dominance of the home care purchasing market to drive down fees to providers, and thereby manage cuts to their own funding from government.
The UKHCA’s calculations are based on the assumption that councils pay providers for contact time only, not workers’ travel time. As travel time must be taken into account in a worker’s hourly pay to comply with minimum wage regulations, this has been added as a separate cost to the minimum price. It has used calculations from analysts Laing and Buisson in 2010 showing that travel time is about 19% of contact time.
The £15.19 an hour minimum also include mileage, employers’ national insurance contributions, holiday pay, profit of 3% and the costs faced by the provider in running their business, which is equivalent to 27% of the price.
Interviewed on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Sandie Keene described the UKHCA’s calculations as a “helpful model” to assist providers and councils in negotiations over price, but insisted there was no set price for care.
She said there was now “very little public finance available for councils” and called for a “national debate” about how much society was willing to pay for care.
- Full findings from the BBC’s investigation will be set out in this evening’s File on 4, on Radio 4 at 8pm.