90% of UK local authorities fail to pay the minimum cost of providing care. The average hourly rate paid by local authorities is £14.58 per hour which is over two pounds less than the minimum price that should be paid according to the UK Home Care Association.
Local authorities in response have stated that they can only pay money which they have access to; this is said in spite of the increase in public funds available to pay for the provision of care through the social care levy of up to 2% on council tax.
The UK Home Care Association calculated the required minimum cost of £16.70 an hour on the basis of paying carers the national living wage and incorporating daily running costs and a profit margin of £0.50/ hour. The average paid by local authorities is nominally higher than 18 months ago when the last survey was conducted; however, the number of councils not paying a ‘fair wage’ has risen owing to the introduction of the national living wage as a benchmark.
The UK Home Care Association repeated claims made by many within the sector that local authorities’ endemic inability to meet the true cost of care posed an existential threat to the sector. This could pose a false economy to the public purse as care providers and beds continue to dwindle. The onus may fall on local authorities to provide care directly which could prove to be more costly in the longer term.
Some might say that there are vested interests at play within the sector on either side of the debate; surely the ‘fair’ solution should be the setting up of a central commissioning authority which rules on the ‘fair’ cost of care to both the provider and the payer with a focus on those paid for from the public purse. This doesn’t appear to be a solution any of the stakeholders would find appropriate at this point in time; whatever ‘solution’ is found to the growing void in payments it is hoped that it presents itself sooner rather than later.