New inflation-busting CQC fees intensify care sector crisis.
The National Care Association, responding to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) proposals for a startling rise in its annual fees for regulated services, has echoed the responses of stunned care sector colleagues. These proposed charges will further impact on a sector already struggling with a £375 million deficit as a result of the chronic underinvestment in the sector by both local and central government. Now, in addition to the losses being suffered by providers – whereby the UK’s independent care providers are forced to plug the 8 percent gap between local authority rates and actual care home fees – care home owners are expected, by the CQC, to submit to an inflation-busting 25 percent rise in CQC annual fees.
National Care Association’s Chairman, Nadra Ahmed OBE, says: ‘In a climate of austerity imposed by Central Government, and current Local Authority funding cuts, which are 35 percent greater than last year’s shortfall, it is beyond belief that the CQC should be contemplating an increase, which they know will increase the financial burden already borne by the independent care sector. This new, alarming scale of charges proposed by the CQC is likely to accelerate the catastrophic meltdown of our sector, fulfilling our prediction of a systematic collapse of the independent social care market. In consequence, we foresee the loss – at a conservative estimate – of 40,000 care beds (3,500 have been lost since July), with the incalculable impact on NHS care provision that such an exodus implies. In short, the CQC’s proposals are unrealistic and simply do not take into account the fragility of the sector. Whilst understanding the full-cost recovery model used in the consultation document’s rationale, one could argue that they have missed the opportunity to work with the sector, as often quoted, at this critical time to enhance the submissions to the CSR, and arrive at a more realistic, moderate fee increase.’