Care homes suspend action in funding row with councils

A breakthrough was reached this week in the funding row between
private care home owners and local authorities in Scotland. It
followed talks between Scottish Care, the Convention of Scottish
Local Authorities (Cosla) and the Scottish executive.

Scottish Care, which represents the majority of Scotland’s
private care homes, has agreed to suspend action against local
authorities for three months until an independently-chaired working
group of representatives of the three organisations reports on a
new pricing framework in November.

The group had previously threatened to refuse council-funded
residents unless the council agreed to a £50-a-week fee
increase per resident.

Aberdeen-based members of the umbrella group had already begun
refusing residents, and had been accused by Aberdeen Council of
holding the residents and the council “to ransom” when they were
unable to meet demands.

It had looked as if the crisis was to escalate with the news
that similar action would be taken in north and south Lanarkshire
unless local authority fees were increased within the next six
months. However, Scottish Care has now agreed to lift the
restrictions on these councils.

The breakthrough came after Cosla approached the Scottish
executive about the funding dispute, and the executive agreed to
commit an extra £17.5 million to the sector to be spread over
the current and next financial year.

Once agreed, the new pricing framework, which will be backdated
to 1 July 2001, will allow councils to negotiate fees on a
council-by-council basis. Private care homes will then receive
backdated payments.

The development breaks a three-month dispute which began with
the rejection of Cosla’s proposal for a weekly baseline rate of
£346 per resident. Cosla and Scottish Care have both welcomed
the progress made this week and are hopeful that a resolution will
be reached by the working party.

Cosla’s social work spokesperson Rita Miller said: “I am
absolutely delighted with this breakthrough and Scottish Care’s
assurance that there will be no further action against councils and
that all current action by their members will be lifted.

“Local negotiations will now be able to be concluded and this
must be applauded,” she added.

Describing the meeting’s outcome as a victory, Scottish Care
chairperson Joe Campbell said: “We think we were right to accept
the offer on the table and suspend our action.

But he added: “The real work starts now with the tripartite
talks and we are very confident that we can prove that the real
costs of care are very much higher than many people had thought

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