A High Court Judgement[i] passed down this week (Thursday 17 July 2014) will have profound implications for the funding of care home residents throughout the UK.
This is the view of the Abbeyfield Society whose Newcastle branch took Newcastle City Council to Court for not paying a fair rate for the care provided to older people at two of Abbeyfield’s care homes in the City (Gosforth House and the Grove).
The charity is claiming victory in what it believes is the first Judgement of its kind where a court has been prepared to fix a reasonable rate for care rather than tell a local authority to go away and fix a lawful rate.
“We were forced to take a stand because Newcastle wasn’t paying a fair rate for the care we were providing”, said John Kilner, Chairman of the Abbeyfield Newcastle Society. “We are very relieved and pleased at the High Court ruling. Other care home providers up and down the country will be looking to this Judgement to ensure that they too can continue to provide the quality of care that elderly people deserve, regardless of their financial circumstances.”
The Abbeyfield Society nationally believes that this week’s ruling will have a profound effect on local authority funding of residential care beds throughout the UK. The charity has 81 Care Homes in the UK in which approximately 30% of residents are funded by their local authorities.
Commenting on the national implications of the case, Natasha Singarayer, Chief Executive of the Abbeyfield Society said, “The Newcastle Judgement brings the care funding issue into sharp focus. From now on local authorities will find it much harder to get away with short-funding care beds.
“As a charity, our prime aim isn’t making profit out of care and we are determined to continue charging fair fees. But to remain viable, we have to cover our costs and in recent years too many local authorities up and down the UK have been short-funding the care we provide to older people who don’t have enough money to pay for their own residential care.
“There are 145,000 people in England alone with relatively few assets or on low incomes that have their care home places funded by local authorities so this is a huge issue for older people in the UK, let alone within Abbeyfield. I understand that many local authorities are cash strapped and that this situation is only likely to get worse.
“We estimate that across England and Wales local authorities are short-funding Abbeyfield by at least 10%. That puts a huge strain on a charity like us but I shudder to think what the impact is on local authority residents who live with private care providers who, unlike our charity, are driven by profit.
“This is a national scandal and we cannot allow this situation to continue. We all want the best possible care for older people in care homes and that can’t happen without decent funding. As a charity Abbeyfield can take local authorities to court and shout about the problem, but what is really needed here is a realistic approach to this fundamental finance issue by both central and local government.”