CAMPAIGNERS are calling for national tariffs to set the price of social care packages to end the current unfair squeeze on providers.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says setting such national tariffs would protect care providers and give them a fairer price to deliver services.
The call comes after the President of ADASS, Sarah McClinton admitted that “Councils have squeezed down prices paid to providers over many years”.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“It is good to see the president of ADASS give this honest account of what is happening to care providers.
“The price paid by local authorities to care providers has been squeezed and squeezed for many years to the point where it no longer reflects anything like the true cost of looking after people in their own home or supported living or in care and nursing homes.
“The end result is that providers are being pushed out of the market, especially with the added pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, dire staff shortages and spiraling costs.”
He said he understood the pressures on local authorities who had themselves been chronically under-funded by successive governments.
“The current funding regime is brutal and unfair with government cuts hitting local authorities hard and pitting them in a fight with providers to buy care at the lowest possible price,” Mr Padgham added.
“This is the worst possible scenario in which to provide care for our oldest and most vulnerable people. Low fees, combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, the current staffing crisis and rocketing costs are combining to push providers to the edge of survival.”
Alongside a national minimum wage for care staff, the ICG is calling for national tariffs to be set which all care commissioners had to adhere to when buying care packages.
“At the moment we have a postcode lottery of care, with providers paid different fees up and down the country,” Mr Padgham added. “This sets providers against local authorities when we should all be working together to provide the best care. National rates would remove the need for local negotiations which are both time-consuming and divisive.”
These suggestions were part of the Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document which the ICG published last autumn. It sets out what the ICG believes are the actions required to save the sector.