Nursing home leaders today welcomed the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation that the government should require local authorities to increase funding for the social care sector to help care providers meet the cost of a proposed 3% rise in the national minimum wage.
The Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) argues that, without the extra funding, nursing homes will struggle to find the money to pay the rise. If accepted by the government, it will come into effect from October 2014 and require employers to pay adult staff a minimum of £6.50 an hour.
Said RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell: “We support the Low Pay Commission in its desire to increase the minimum wage. We think that it is a fair and considered proposal.
“But as the commission itself is well aware, social care providers do not have the resources to meet the cost of the increase. We are therefore pleased the commission has reminded the government that, when councils decide how much they are going to pay care providers, they must take account of actual care costs.”
He added: “It is not just the Low Pay Commission that is saying this. Over recent years a number of landmark court cases have resulted in judgements reinforcing this message.
“When you think about it, that’s common sense. How can anyone provide care for less money than it is costing them? That’s a route to lower standards and, ultimately, bankruptcy, is it not?”
Commenting on funding prospects for nursing homes in the year ahead, Mr Ursell stressed that a very large number of councils had either frozen the fees they pay for publicly funded patients or were cutting those fees.
“Whichever way you look at it, local authorities are imposing ‘real terms’ reductions in the amount they pay to nursing homes,” he said. “That’s why the government is going to have to act, especially if it accepts the Low Pay Commission’s proposals on the national minimum wage.”
He concluded: “How, logically, could the government tell us in one breath to pay our staff more whilst councils tell us they’re going to pay us less? Unless ministers grasp this conundrum, there will be storm clouds ahead for elderly care in this country.”