English homes lobby Prime Minister over costs as Scots settle fees row

Care homes by Sally Gillen and Nicola Barry

English homes lobby Prime Minister over costs as Scots settle
fees row

A group of 25 care home associations, which between them provide
70,000 beds, plan to write to Prime Minister Tony Blair saying they
will no longer take council-funded residents unless fees are paid
in full.

Care home associations from the north of England and the
midlands agreed to write the letter at a meeting of the umbrella
organisation Coalition for Care last week. The letter will ask for
money for care homes to be ring-fenced within social services

The move coincides with the resolution of a year-long row in
Scotland over care home fees. The Scottish executive has agreed to
provide local authorities with an extra £61m to cover an
increase in care home fees for council-funded residents. This is
the second part of a deal agreed earlier this year (news, page 8,
28 February).

Scottish Care, which represents care home owners, had previously
issued an ultimatum advising members to refuse to take
council-funded residents unless the council came up with an average
of £50 extra per resident per week.

Meanwhile, across the UK, there are fears that a Competition
Commission ruling last month could leave local authorities with no
choice but to pay the fees charged by care homes or face being
hauled before the Office of Fair Trading.

The BetterCare Group, a private care home operator, last month
won a case against the North & West Belfast Health and Social
Services Trust after the Competition Commission ruled that, as the
main purchaser of care home places, local authorities could be an
“economic undertaking” in the market for care homes and therefore
be governed by competition laws.

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