Local authorities paying providers below a ‘fair’ price, according to sector review

New research by care sector analysts shows care homes are being
massively underpaid by local authorities for looking after publicly
funded residents.

Laing and Buisson’s annual review of the sector shows that the
average fee paid by local authorities in England for nursing care
is £451 a week, £37 short of the minimum it has
calculated as a “fair” price for providing care.

Under its new scale it has calculated that care home owners should
be paid a minimum of £420 and a maximum of £497
(£543-£620 in and around London) for providing nursing
care depending on whether they meet the national minimum standards.

For personal care to older people there is a floor of £298 and
ceiling of £375 (£397-£474 in London) and for
dementia sufferers a minimum of £322 and maximum £399
(£426-£503 in London).

Averaged out, the fair price range is £488-£578 for
nursing care and £352-£441 for personal care. But the
average paid by councils is £358.

William Laing, director of Laing and Buisson, said the poor rates
could be an explanation for the continuing decline in new care home
bed registrations.

The report also shows that the number of care home beds in England
fell to just above 400,000 in 2003-4, continuing the steady decline
of the past eight years from the 1996 peak of 460,000. Occupancy
levels held steady at just below 400,000, or about 90 per cent of

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