Councils underpaying for homecare for the elderly
Only 28 councils out of more than 200 surveyed is paying the recommended minimum price or higher for home care for the elderly.
The UK Homecare Association (UKHCA) sent FOI requests to 211 councils, and other bodies responsible for social care, and the 206 responses showed that just one in seven councils paid the minimum price of £15.74 an hour.
This is the price the body, which represents the agencies that provide the home care for councils, believes reflects the national minimum wage.
The organisation calculates the price by using the national minimum wage and then adding to that the costs of running the service, including travel costs for staff and pension contributions. Of the £15.74, only 47p is set aside for profit or surplus.
The average price per hour in England was actually £13.77, with councils in the north east paying the least at £11.64 per hour. The south west is the only region where the average price paid by councils is at or above the recommended minimum.
The association warned that this deficit could put elderly people at risk and council funding cuts will only worsen the “already critical situation”.
UKHCA's policy director, Colin Angel, said: "Low prices paid for homecare services carry a number of risks, including poor terms and conditions for the workforce, insufficient resources to organise the service and insufficient training for the complex work that supports the increasingly frail and disabled individuals who qualify for state-funded support.
"Unless this underfunding is addressed, the independent and voluntary sector will continue to struggle to recruit and retain care workers with the right disposition, training and qualifications. Ultimately, the care market will become commercially unsustainable for the providers who deliver most of the homecare purchased by the state within the UK."
About 500,000 people across the UK rely on homecare support, which includes help with washing and dressing.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said the squeeze on finances had "forced councils to ask providers to run services on tighter margins".
She added: "It is clear that continued cuts to funding for adult social care is putting an impossible squeeze on councils and providers to deliver care for our most vulnerable.”
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