‘Councils must be given more cash’

Councils in north west England believe the government needs to find
extra funding if they are to pay residential nursing homes a “fair”
rate for providing care and stem the flow of home closures.

Research by social care market analysts Laing & Buisson shows
that Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, and Lancashire Councils,
while allocating as many resources as possible, are unable to pay
private care homes recommended fee levels for publicly funded
clients. Lancashire alone estimates it is underfunded by £9m.

The study of 278 care homes in the area has resulted in Laing &
Buisson developing a fees structure which better reflects the
staffing, maintenance, land value and capital costs providers face.

This sets an upper and lower rate for the three councils based
around whether providers comply with the 38 national minimum
standards for homes. For example, Lancashire Council would pay
compliant homes £384 a week for each client for residential
care, compared with the current rate of £299. Non-compliant
providers would receive £77 or less.

Laing & Buisson has proposed a national system along similar
lines (news, page 10, 25 March).

A spokesperson for Lancashire said: “We admit we are not paying the
appropriate fee but to do so we either need to raise council tax or
get more funding from government.”

Joe Campbell, chief executive of the English Community Care
Association, called the research a “major step forward” and
something that “every council should be doing”.

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