Council faces legal threat over care fees cut of 9.5%

Care providers have threatened to take Wirral Council to court over its decision to reduce their fees by 9.5%, warning it will damage care.

The council has told providers that it intends to end all contracts for care services by 11 April and re-tender for the services at a lower rate. It said residential and nursing care rates would be 9.5% less than they are now.

Providers say the reduction in funding will “inevitably lead to providers being unable to maintain the high standards of care” and are angered that the council has not disclosed how it has calculated the 9.5% reduction.

“If the local authority is not willing to change its stance then the option of judicial review seems likely,” said solicitor Ray Perwell of Ashton Brookes, the legal firm representing the Wirral Care Home Association.

The threat follows Pembrokeshire Council’s decision to raise fees for four care homes after a judicial review found that a previous decision to freeze rates had not been made correctly. The judge said the council had given too much weight to its need to cut costs.

Bob Moon, Wirral’s cabinet member for adult social services, said in December that the council wanted to bring its fees in line with other authorities. “At the same time as trying to address major budget challenges, the council has been paying about 9.5% more than other local authorities for care home fees. This is not an efficient use of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

The council said it had robust quality assurance measures in place to maintain standards of care.

However, Ashton Brookes claimed in a letter to the council: “It is a complete fallacy that your department believes that quality care can be maintained on an annual reduction in fees.”

This is not the first time that providers have attacked Wirral over fee cuts. In 2009, the Registered Nursing Home Association attacked the council’s threat to cancel the contracts of care home providers if they did not accept a 1.3% cut.

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