Regulation will increase costs

Providers and purchasers of social care will have to bear the
£130 million annual running costs of the National Care
Standards Commission (NCSC), a government consultation paper
published this week reveals.

The NCSC, created by the Care Standards Act 2000, will be
responsible from April 2002 for regulating social and health care
services previously regulated by local councils and health
authorities, as well as other services not previously

The paper acknowledges that, as purchasers and providers of
care, there will be “significant financial implications” for local
authorities and health authorities, but insists that “appropriate
funding adjustments” will ensure their ability to purchase and
support care will not be affected.

Under the new system, local authorities will have to pay the
same registration and annual fees for their own care homes and
children’s homes as those to be paid by voluntary and private
providers, as well as annual fees for their fostering and adoption
services. They will also face higher care fees as providers
incorporate regulatory fees into the cost of placements.

The Department of Health predicts that there will be
approximately 40,000 services that will be regulated and inspected
by the NCSC, a 33 per cent rise on the current number. This extra
workload will require an additional 315 registration and inspection
staff on top of the existing 1,160, as well as more managers and
support staff.

The changes will see residential care homes facing an average
annual bill of £3,500 for registration and inspections, while
for nursing homes the figure will rise to an estimated £4,200
per year.

Other homes for adults can expect to pay an annual average of
£3,000, as can adoption and fostering services.

For residential family centres, not previously registered, and
children’s homes, the annual bill is estimated at £4,000 per

The government has proposed that these fee increases should be
phased in over a period of five years, subject to review after two
years. This would give the largest sector, care homes, time to
adjust and is “in recognition that a steep increase in fees would
de-stabilise the sector”.

But National Care Homes Association chief executive Sheila Scott
said that even the proposed rise in inspection fees for residential
placements for 2002-3, from the current £46 per place to
£50, would represent a 9 per cent increase that the sector can

“The government has to get its head around the fact that it
funds a minimum 65 per cent of all care home places,” Scott said.
“Most local authorities have given about a 2 per cent minimum
increase this year for care home placements. But the minimum wage
has gone up by 10 per cent, we have all these new minimum standards
to meet, and now they are proposing an increase of 9 per cent on
inspection fees. It doesn’t add up.”

The consultation paper also suggests that regulatory fees could
be based on the actual registration and inspection work carried out
by the NCSC for each provider. This would mean higher payments for
providers requiring extra visits to ensure compliance with minimum
standards and lower payments for those who always complied.

Consultation ends on 18 September.

Meanwhile, a second consultation paper on the NCSC’s
registration regulations was also published last week, outlining
the information and evidence applicants will need to provide in
order to register.

The National Care Standards Commission (Registration)
Regulations 2001 and Frequencies of Inspection and Regulatory Fees
are both available at

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