Care England is mounting a legal challenge to the fee rates Essex Council pays to private care home providers.
The care representative body has gained approval to launch Judicial Review proceedings against the council.
Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive for Care England, (pictured) said: “Care England is deeply concerned about the council’s conduct towards the care home market within Essex and as a result, the sustainability of that market.”
Martin said the low fees offered to private providers were in breach of the Care Act and its responsibility to develop a “diverse and sustainable service”.
Essex Council conceded last year that it was unable to raise all its rates to match the cost of care following a Cost of Care Exercise (see Care England says proposed council fees will force care homes to close).
“Their fee levels are low and they don’t properly negotiate with providers,” Martin told Care Home Professional.
“They think they are above the law and nobody in central government is doing anything about it.
“We are not seeing increases in the Social Care Precept coming through to front line services. Nobody knows where the money has gone.”
“We would like to see a review of Essex fee levels and send a clear message to other councils that they are not above the law.
“It’s not just about now but about future care provision. No-one is going to be investing in Essex.”