Independent providers of social care have criticised local authorities for what they describe as ‘paltry fee offers’.
Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of social care, has said it is disappointed in the few offers that have been made by councils and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
They also said they expected offers to be made at the beginning of the financial year ‘rather than a month, or more, later.’
‘Yet again, local authorities and CCGs are only now beginning to make their fee offers to care providers,’ said Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England.
‘It is unbelievable that we are in this position again.
‘If the care sector is to plan efficiently to provide the necessary high quality care it is unfathomable as to how this can happen with such a time lag, uncertainty and of course negligible or zero uplifts.’
Care England said that while most fees were yet to be announced, there was already a ‘worrying trend’ of rates not keeping pace with rising costs.
Bromley CCG, for example, has only awarded a 0.1% uplift and Staffordshire County Council has only offered a 1.0% uplift for existing residents.
‘These incredibly low fee offers demonstrate that health and social care simply are not held in the same regard,’ said Professor Green.
‘There needs to be parity of esteem between the health and social care workforce. Skills, effort and experience count for a lot and should be remunerated beyond the National Minimum Wage.
‘The wages and career progression on offer to the social care workforce should be proportionate to its contribution to individuals and society in general in equal measures to that afforded to the NHS staff.
‘We are urging our members to work with their newly elected councillors to alleviate the situation before it is too late and the bottom falls out of the market leaving untold repercussions on the NHS.’
The social care sector is currently facing a funding gap that is set to exceed £2bn by 2020.
A report published today by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised the Department of Health and Social Care for not producing a ‘credible, long-term plan’ for tackling this care crisis.
‘The adult social care sector is underfunded, with the care workforce suffering from low pay, low esteem and high turnover of staff,’ it said.
‘[It is in] a precarious state, but the department … has not yet said how it intends to put in place a long-term, sustainable funding regime to meet the ever-increasing demand for care.’
Responding to the PAC report, the Local Government Association (LGA) said: ‘Councils have done all they can to prioritise and protect adult social care, but the combination of historic funding reductions, rising demand and increasing cost pressures means many councils are having to make significant savings and reductions across their budgets, including within adult social care itself.
‘This is leading to an ever more fragile provider market, growing unmet and under-met need, further strain on informal carers, less investment in prevention, and continued pressure on an already-overstretched workforce.’