Private payers prop up social care system


Self funders are paying almost 50% more for weekly care homes fees than local authorities, according to new research.

The LaingBuisson report commissioned by the County Councils Network (CCN) reveals that private fee payers are filling a £670m shortfall in services.

Cllr Colin Noble, CCN Spokesman for Health & Social Care said: “The social care market is broken. Substantial reductions to social care budgets have left councils with little choice but to negotiate lower fees for their taxpayers’ money, but this means the system is being propped up by private fee payers. This is clearly unsustainable, with many care home providers at a very real risk of collapse.”

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The report also warns of the potential costs and ‘uneven distribution’ of the Conservative manifesto’s proposals to limit care costs individuals can face for elderly care. It suggests that unless fully funded, it could inadvertently push more care homes to close due to the funding gap.

The report found that the introduction of the threshold could result in an annual cost of £308m for the 37 counties in England, because many more private fee payers would come into state support.

For councils in the Midlands and North, the threshold would take many private fee payers into state support – as many of 56% in one county – increasing the financial pressures facing providers in these areas as private fees are currently keeping them afloat, subsidising the lower council fees.

In addition, the report also analysed a cap on care, which the Conservatives say will not be implemented until after 2020 at the earliest. The introduction of a cap on care, introduced at the originally-proposed level of £72,000 could result in an annual cost rising to £330m for the 37 counties.

William Laing, Director of LaingBuisson, said: “Government cannot continue to avoid the issue of the funding of care for older people. The market in some parts of the country is already precarious owing to a reliance on the high fees frequently paid by self-payors.

“As the government seeks to find a more equitable way of sharing the costs of care, it needs to be alive to the fact that any resulting reduction of income could lead to care home closures. That is, unless more money is injected into the system to make up for any shortfalls.”

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The author Lee Peart

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