Care England demands greater oversight in commissioning processes

Professor Martin Green, chief executive, Care England

Care England is calling for greater oversight in commissioning processes after its analysis found independent sector care homes were being underfunded compared with the fees paid to council-run homes.

Through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, the representative body found independent care sector, private and charitable services were having to provide standard residential care for less than £500, while state-run homes in both neighbouring and the same local authorities were given more than £700 in weekly fees.

Its analysis found Manchester City Council paid £459.74 to independent providers in 2019/20, whereas less than 20 miles away in Kirklees Metropolitan Council state-run homes received up to £721.90 to provide the same type of care (older persons residential) in the same year. The difference was £13,636 over the year.

In addition, other local authorities like Rotherham were given just £456 per resident per week despite being just under 27 miles from Kirklees.

Care England said Sheffield and Leeds city councils were 33 miles apart, however, in its FoI reply Leeds said it paid local authority care services £726 per residential resident, while in Sheffield the general residential fee was £481. Over the course of a year, this amounts to £12,740 per resident or £318,500 for a 25-bed care service.

In neighbouring Rotherham independent operators were asked to provide care for £456 per resident per week.

The average costs of an economically run residential home is between £623 to £726 depending on standard of accommodation and whether or not they are supporting people living with dementia, according to LaingBuisson.

Professor Martin Green, Care England chief executive, said: ‘Such analysis only furthers the independent sector’s calls for greater oversight to be placed upon commissioning processes, these discrepancies in levels of funding cannot be justified.

‘This is not the way to promote joint working across systems and accentuates the lack of parity with which the independent care sector is treated. Residents should not be affected by different levels of funding based on whether they are placed within either independent or state provision.

‘In some cases, the discrepancies in funding levels amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds – this simply isn’t right in the context of a sector under great financial pressure.’

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board chairman, said: ‘The provider market is an essential part of the care and support system and councils work closely with local care providers to ensure a good quality market of services. However, given the serious funding and demand pressures facing adult social care there is a known gap between what providers say they need and what councils pay.

‘The forthcoming Budget is an important opportunity to address this crucial issue of funding while looking ahead to finding a longer-term, cross-party solution to adult social care, which the government has committed to achieving and which we at the LGA are happy to play our part in.

‘Part of this solution needs to consider how best to address the recognised need for greater fairness in how care is paid for and funded.’

The government has said it will publish a plan for adult social care this year.