A report from health and care research firm Laing Buisson has found that only 21 councils out of 150 investigated are paying weekly fees at or above the £620 per week benchmark considered reasonable for residential care.
One in eight councils are paying one-third less than the recommended rate, and one local authority, Sefton, in Liverpool, pays local operators just £299 a week.
The research has been released in the same week that the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) launched its 2016 budget review, which found that charging residents extra council tax to pay for social care has failed to raise enough money to cover the cost of the new National Living Wage (NLW), let alone address the huge shortfall in funding in the face of increasing demand, a survey of all 151 adult social services directors in England has found.
The report highlights that the precept, introduced in the Autumn Statement 2015 to give councils the option to raise council tax by 2 per cent for adult social care, will generate less than two thirds of the more than £600 million needed to cover the NLW this year.
That means that this year, directors are left with a gap to fill of around £940 million just to keep services operating at last year’s levels – for all of those people who need them.
ADASS President Harold Bodmer said: “Councils are working hard to protect adult social services budgets, with adult social care accounting for 35 per cent of council spending for the third year running. However, with more people needing support and having increasingly complex needs, the impact of the welcome national living wage, and other cost pressures, fewer people are getting help, and councils are having to make reductions which will impact on people who receive care.
“More money needs to be invested in prevention to reduce future demand, but with funding under such pressure and diverted to those with greatest and immediate need – those that we have a statutory duty towards – the opportunity to do that is being taken away.”