Social care providers sound alarm over council fee cuts

Care quality will suffer in Leeds' residential and nursing homes on the back of recommendations to cut fees to the independent sector, providers have warned.

Care quality will suffer in Leeds’ residential and nursing homes on the back of recommendations to cut fees to the independent sector, providers have warned.

The council said the fees it pays to independent residential and nursing care homes are higher than those paid by most comparable and all neighbouring local authorities and is not sustainable in the light of cuts in government funding.

A report to the council’s executive board, which meets on 7 September, is advising the “negotiated implementation of a revised temporary fee structure for publicly funded residents taking up placements in Leeds homes from October 1st this year”.

This would bring rates down in line with other authorities, although the details of the proposed fees have been kept confidential.

The Leeds Care Association, which represents independent care providers in the city, was given no warning of the recommendation and said providers had no room for manoeuvre.

“We are shocked. We don’t know how we are going to make reductions because there’s no room for manouevre to cut our costs,” said chairman Peter Hodkinson, who warned that members would not take this lightly.

The meeting will also seek the go ahead to set up an advisory board made up of representatives from groups involved in delivering care for older people whose remit will be to agree a long term, sustainable fee framework for the future.

Mike Padgham, chairman of a group that represents independent providers in York and North Yorkshire, said independent providers could not continue to deliver quality care with fuel going up and the national minimum wage going up and fees being cut.

“It’s very disappointing. Looking at other local authorities and saying they are paying less doesn’t mean it’s right. In North Yorkshire we are fighting to say fees aren’t sufficient,” he said.

The council’s plan is part of a wider bid to save money in adult social care, which includes closing shutting four in-house day centres and five council-run care homes because of high running and maintenance costs. Residents would be moved to independent sector homes.

A sixth in-house care home – Dolphin Manor – might be transferred to a community interest company or closed on completion of a newly built care home in Rothwell.

Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult health and social care, sought to reassure residents in affected homes that “nothing will be done suddenly or unexpectedly”.

A team of social workers and health professionals will work with individuals and their families “to make sure their individual circumstances are taken into account and their longer-term needs are met”, she added.

The council is also recommending the recommissioning of eight day centres as specialist centres, while eight care homes will be under review.

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