The Homecare Association has published its Minimum Price for Homecare for April 2023 to March 2024. This minimum fee rate for purchase of homecare by local authorities and the NHS has been calculated at £25.95 per hour. This allows for full compliance with the National Living Wage (£10.42 per hour) and the delivery of sustainable, good quality, regulated homecare services.
The minimum price has increased from last year (£23.20 per hour) due to a 9.7% increase in the National Living Wage from April 2023, and inflation in operating costs, including sky-high fuel prices and rising rent, rates and utilities.
It is important to stress that the Homecare Association believes care workers should be paid much more than the legal minimum to recognise the skill and responsibility of their roles and to improve retention and recruitment of staff. Also reported are calculated fee rates required to enable payment of the Real Living Wage (£10.90 per hour), a wage equivalent to NHS Band 3 with 2+ years’ experience (£11.85 per hour), the London Living Wage (£11.95 per hour) and a competitive labour market wage rate (£13.64 per hour) of between £26.79 and £31.55 per hour. Many providers are already paying above the national minimum wage, some as high as £15-17 per hour, but this is only possible with hourly fee rates to match.
Homecare Association’s CEO, Dr Jane Townson said:
“Too many local authorities and the NHS continue to commission homecare at fee rates far below the true cost of delivering care. Persistently underestimating providers’ costs risks diminishing the availability of services, the experience of the workforce, and providers’ ability to comply with the legal requirements placed on them.
“Low fee rates from councils and the NHS lead directly to homecare workers receiving poor pay and terms and conditions of employment. It’s hardly surprising there is a shortage of homecare workers, as fuel prices remain high and many are struggling to pay their household bills.
“Without adequate investment in homecare by central and local government, providers will be unable to maintain and grow the workforce to meet rising demand. Over half a million older and disabled people are already sitting on council waiting lists, unable to access the support and care they need. At least 13,500 people are stuck in hospital ready for discharge, of which 1 in 4 are waiting for homecare. Delays in discharging people back home are contributing to lengthening ambulance response times and waiting lists for NHS treatment of over 7 million, which affects all who need medical help.
“Whilst the significant investment in social care made in the Autumn Statement was welcome, it falls short of what is needed to develop strong, sustainable homecare services fit to meet current and future needs.
“We call on the government to recognise the value of homecare and the vital role it plays in enabling people to live well at home. With adequate funds for home-based and community support, we could help to extend healthy life expectancy, reduce inequalities, take pressure off the NHS and reduce costs for the health and care system.”