Battle lines drawn as Ladyman goes on the attack over care home fees

Care home owners and the government have fired the first shots in
what looks set to be a bitter battle over care home fees for

Community care minister Stephen Ladyman warned care home owners
they must be prepared to change the way they delivered care or face
going out of business.

He told Laing and Buisson’s annual long-term care conference in
London it was not up to the government to provide fee increases
across the board regardless of local capacity. He added that the
market would decide which providers would prosper and which would
go under.

He also said a range of care options should be available for older
people in all areas and that social services had received ample
funding to develop these.

Ladyman championed extra-care housing – which, according to Laing
and Buisson’s latest figures, is delivered to only 25,000 people –
and predicted it would be the predominant form of care in 20

“Changes are inevitable,” he said. “Providers which ignore that
won’t survive. I expect to see the number of people living in care
homes come down and the number of home care hours grow.”

But Joe Campbell, chief executive of the English Community Care
Association (ECCA), told delegates that, until the funding of care
home beds was resolved, change was not achievable.

He called on care home owners to lobby MPs to take part in local
care home conferences to ask whether they supported the ECCA’s call
for an independent review of the “true” cost of care. “If they
don’t support a review, they will be turning their back on
employees, local people and local economies. We are going to bring
the issue right up to their face.”

The ECCA, which represents independent, charity and voluntary
sector providers which run 400,000 care home beds in England, also
warned that many care home owners would struggle to pay for the
above-inflation rise in the national minimum wage from £4.50
to £4.85 in October, announced in last week’s Budget.

But Ladyman called the ECCA the tyrannosaurus rex of dinosaurs that
would lead care home owners into oblivion.

“All dinosaurs became extinct – even tyrannosaurus rex,” he said.

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