It Really is Time for a Fair Price for Care-says NCF
The National Care Forum (NCF) the leading association of not for profit care and support providers welcomes the written ministerial statement from the Rt Hon. Gillian Keegan, MP – Minister for Care and Mental Health
The statement relates to the Fair Cost of Care and Market Sustainability Fund: Purpose and Conditions for 2022-23 and provides the detail on how the Government will provide the £1.4bn over the next three years to support local authorities to prepare markets for reform and move towards paying social care providers a fair cost of care.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF says: “It is positive to see a clear narrative from the minister which recognises that the move to a fair price to care is an essential part of the reform to social care and a clear acknowledgement that ‘a significant number of local authorities are paying residential and domiciliary care providers less than it costs to deliver the care received’.
“The statement is also clear about the Government’s determination that local authorities begin to take a firm step on the journey to move towards a fair price for care. The NCF have campaigned for this and highlighted just how the current system puts a huge burden on those who need, and are required to pay, for their own care and support under the existing means-testing arrangements. This has created and sustains a fundamentally unfair situation where people paying for their own care cross-subsidise the state.
“The fair price for care cost exercises outlined in the statement are important and need to be done well, with an inclusive, open and transparent approach to recognising the full costs of high quality care. It is essential that this exercise is not simple tick box exercises. Local authorities must take the opportunity to work collaboratively with their social care providers to reset the dial on the fees they pay, and reach an honest and mutual agreement about a fully funded fair price for care that delivers high quality and accessible care for all who need it.
“This Statement does however contain some alarm bells. Given that we are only at the start of this journey in determining the fair price for care, it is hard to understand how the DHSC has already stipulated an estimate of £600m funding for each of the following two years to address the unfair cross subsidy issue and move to a realistic fully funded fair price for care. Other estimates to address the shortfall in care funding have arrived at a figure closer to £7bn a year. The funding required to achieve this must be urgently reviewed in light of the outcome of the fair price for care cost exercises – not set before they are even carried out!
“More detail is also needed on how the DHSC views the likely progress of individuals in their ability to exercise their requests under section 18.3 of the Care Act. The ambition to enable more people who fund their own care to ask their local authority to arrange care on their behalf to secure better value rests, fundamentally, on local authorities’ ability to pay a fair price for that care. Failure to do so will result in huge market instability and the closure of many services as they become financially unsustainable.
“As the leading voice for the not for profit sector, we welcome the DHSC plans to work closely with the sector to develop the approach to the fair cost of care exercises. These are the foundation of the ambition to move to a fair price for care and we are looking forward to shaping an inclusive, accurate & honest approach to these.”