A leading social care group has condemned the findings of a report which revealed chronic underpayment of fees for care home places amongst councils.
The Independent Care Group says local authorities are undervaluing a vital and necessary service and putting care homes at risk.
Their words came after health and care research firm Laing Buisson found that only 21 councils out of 150 investigated are paying weekly fees at or above the £620 per week benchmark considered reasonable for residential care.
Laing Buisson said one in eight councils are paying one-third less than the recommended rate, and one local authority, Sefton, in Liverpool, pays local operators just £299 a week.
The Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “The amount some councils are paying grossly undervalues the service that is being provided to older and vulnerable adults who rely upon their care home for 24-hour care.
“The fees some are paying are unsustainable and will contribute to the inevitable closure of some care homes, unless better funding is provided for social care.”
The last six years has seen more than £5bn cut from social care budgets and the amount local authorities pay to providers to offer care has been savagely cut back. The National Living Wage saw the minimum pay for staff aged over 25 rise to £7.20 an hour -the current national minimum wage is £6.70. Social care providers say this will have a devastating effect on the sector.
Only last week the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said the 2% precept the Government had allowed council to charge to pay towards social care had failed to raise enough money to cover the cost of the new National Living Wage (NLW), let alone address the huge shortfall in funding that social care is currently facing.