Homecare report highlights councils’ meagre payment
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Using data obtained under freedom of information legislation, the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) has released figures which it says show the national and regional picture of under-funding of homecare services for older people across the United Kingdom.
The UKHCA says its report exposes the level of risk that councils in Great Britain (and health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland) place on a system intended to support older people. Of the 203 authorities where an average price could be established, just 28 councils paid their independent and voluntary sector homecare providers fees at or above UKHCA’s minimum price for homecare of £15.74 per hour. The average price for an hour for homecare for older people in a sample week was:
- United Kingdom: £13.66 per hour
- England: £13.77 per hour
- Wales: £14.28 per hour
- Scotland: £13.68 per hour
- Northern Ireland: £11.35 per hour
UKHCA’s policy director Colin Angel said the findings highlighted the exceptionally low rates paid in Northern Ireland; a north-south divide across England; and the impact of dominant purchasing power of councils in Greater London.
“Continued constraints on local government funding can only exacerbate an already critical situation,” said Mr Angel.
“Low prices paid for homecare services carry a number of risks, including poor terms and conditions for the workforce, insufficient resources to organise the service and insufficient training for the complex work that supports the increasingly frail and disabled individuals who qualify for state-funded support.
“Unless this underfunding is addressed, the independent and voluntary sector will continue to struggle to recruit and retain care workers with the right disposition, training and qualifications. Ultimately, the care market will become commercially unsustainable for the providers who deliver most of the homecare purchased by the state within the UK.”
The report makes recommendations for councils, providers and government in all four UK administrations, including effective oversight of authorities’ commissioning practices by independent regulators.
- The Homecare Deficit: A report on the funding of older people’s homecare across the United Kingdom” is available from www.ukhca.co.uk/downloads.aspx?ID=458