Dudley has already spent the 2% social care precept, says West Midlands Care Association
Funds being raised by Dudley Council in the West Midlands to shore-up the costs of social care are being used to help balance the books on the previous year’s care overspend, according to the West Midlands care Association (WMCA).
Under Chancellor George Osborne’s plan to fund care sector needs, he sanctioned a 2% rise in council taxes during the Spending Review last November. But it emerged at an emergency members’ meeting of the WMCA, which represents private and charitable care providers, that the new monies will have no impact on the current industry crisis. Neither will there be any new monies generated for social care from Mr Osborne’s 2016 Budget proposals.
Hopes that the Chancellor would heed calls by the Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) to bring forward £700m of social care funding were not realised and the WMCA says more than 1,000 social care beds have been lost across the country since January.
Association chief executive Debbie Le Quesne said the fact that the 2% precept monies were effectively being directed to pay the last financial year’s care bill came out at a meeting with Stuart Lackenby, Dudley’s head of commissioning.
“We understand that half the public in Dudley agree with the Chancellor’s precept in the belief that it will help adults requiring social care packages to continue to receive them in a sustainable way, but the truth is it will not – the money has effectively already been spent,” said Ms LeQuesne.
At a packed meeting at the Quality Hotel in Dudley, delegates from across the borough were told the next three to four years would be “critical to the survival of social care as we know it.”
For the last nine years, members claim fees have fallen below the viable cost of running a care home. Latest figures from Industry analysts LaingBuisson show that English councils pay on average £91 a week less than what is needed to provide fully compliant care. Ms Le Quesne added that some homes were being kept operational only by private funders who helped make up the shortfalls on the cost of care being paid for by local authorities.
“At best we have three to four years before the landscape of care changes beyond recognition and there will be no way back to the required bed levels and community support our ageing population needs so that a fluid hospital discharge system can be maintained,” she said.
The vast majority of Black Country care businesses rely on placements paid for by councils as a primary income generator. More than 26,300 people across the region are receiving residential care. A similar number have care at home. Ms Le Quesne said in September last year Dudley Social Services had given rises totalling 8.9% over a five year period while, the Consumer Prices Index was at 11.6%, the Retail Price Index at 15% and wage rises hitting 12.3%.
“The rises don’t track costs and what increases have been offered are still not trickling down to us as they should,” she said.
“For example, those in local authority-funded care forgo their national pension and it is handed over to councils to help with meeting costs. A Government increase of £3.35 per week has topped-up that payment to ensure providers can pay their bills, but Dudley has passed down weekly payments of only £2.03 for residential care and £2.59 for nursing care.
“Learning disability and mental health operators have received nothing, yet still face the same issues on cost increases, and critically, have not had a local authority pay increase since 2008.”
In an attempt to secure a funding lifeline to the industry, MPs, councillors, local authority officers and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have been asked to meet with the organisation to discuss its future survival.