A charity has found 30 councils are paying less than £500 a week for an older person in an independent residential care home, the equivalent of just £2.97 per hour.
Care England also found some councils were giving local authority run care homes more per week than charitable or private care homes.
Research by LaingBuisson shows that an economically run residential home would cost between £623 to £726 per week.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: ‘It is unacceptable that independent care homes must restrict the pay and conditions of their staff and subsidise care which councils underfund.
'Ultimately independent care homes may close with the terrible consequences for residents forced to find new homes and staff losing their jobs.
Care England has written to all of these 30 councils to ask how they plan to ensure care is better funded in the future.