The Homecare Association has published its Minimum Price for Homecare for April 2024 to March 2025. We have calculated this minimum fee rate for purchase of homecare by local authorities and the NHS at £28.53 per hour. This allows for full compliance with the new National Living Wage (£11.44) in April 2024 and the delivery of sustainable, good quality, regulated homecare services.
The minimum price has increased from last year (£25.95 per hour) because of a 9.8% increase in the National Living Wage from April 2024, and inflation in operating costs[JT1] .
The Homecare Association stresses the importance of paying care workers much more than the legal minimum. This is to recognise the skill and responsibility of their roles and to improve retention and recruitment of staff.
Also reported are the equivalent fee rates required in England, based on the Real Living Wage, the London Living Wage and for NHS Band 3 with 2+ years’ experience (including a supplementary figure for this band in Outer London). A fee rate of £30.31 per hour is required to pay careworkers an equivalent wage to an NHS Band 3 Healthcare Assistant with 2+ years’ experience (or £34.34 per hour for Outer London).
The Government set aside money in the Autumn Statement 2022 explicitly to improve fee rates for care providers via the Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund. They expect that this will amount to £683 million in 2024-25.
However, to allow the homecare sector to pay similar wages to the NHS for equivalent roles would cost over £2 billion per year (without considering rising demand for social care, changes in terms and conditions or associated costs in other parts of the social care sector, such as in care homes).
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.
“Without adequate investment in homecare by central and local government, providers cannot maintain and grow the workforce to meet rising demand. Over 400,000 older and disabled people are already sitting on council waiting lists, unable to access the support and care they need. At the end of October, over 12600 people were stuck in hospital ready for discharge, of which about 1 in 4 were waiting for homecare. Delays in discharging people back home are contributing to lengthening ambulance response times and waiting lists for NHS treatment of over 7.8 million, which affects all who need medical help.
‘’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. Delivering high-quality care at a fair price to all those that need it is within our grasp. This requires investment and coordinated effort across central government, local government and the NHS, as well as commitment by providers to delivering excellent services.
‘’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.”