Councils not paying fair price for care, UKHCA says

The UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) has outlined that nine out of 10 UK local authorities are failing to pay realistic prices to support older and disabled people in their homes.

The UKHCA calculated that the minimum price councils should be paying should be £16.70 per hour, however the overall average appeared to be £14.58. It warned that agencies were struggling to recruit staff and maintain quality, noting growing numbers of organisations were handing back contracts to councils.

The data was compiled after the UKHCA submitted a series of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to 211 councils and identified that Sefton, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Blackburn councils were among those paying the least at under £12.

The UKHCA maintained that while the average is higher than it was 18 months ago, the number of councils paying below a ‘fair price’ has increased due to increased costs from paying the national living wage.

Colin Angel, of the UKHCA, commented: “We know that an ageing population is increasing demand for homecare services. Councils which decide to pay inadequate rates for homecare are taking major risks with people's wellbeing and the jobs of local people who provide care.

"We have already seen evidence of homecare providers leaving the state-funded care market, or closing their doors for good because they cannot afford to remain in business."

"People who use homecare services are already experiencing the consequences of unstable care markets. Underfunded homecare is an urgent situation, which must not be allowed to continue."

A Local Government Association spokesman added: "The market for publicly-funded care is simply not sustainable as it stands."

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