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Only one in seven councils pay the recommended minimum price for elderly homecare

Local authorities are underfunding homecare on a massive scale and are buying homecare for the elderly “on the cheap,” a major report by the association representing the providers of homecare has found.

The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) found that the average councils in the UK has spent just £16.12 per hour, almost £2 less than the UKHCA’s official minimum price for homecare of £18.01.

It says its major report “exposes the scale of underfunding of a fragile state-funded sector,” with only one council in seven paying a fair price for care.

The UKHCA calculated that the UK’s homecare sector needs at least an additional £402m per year just to ensure that homecare workers are paid the statutory National Living Wage and ensure that homecare providers are providing their statutory obligations.

If the government and local councils were to commit to raising the status of the homecare workforce to the independently calculated real living wage, the size of the deficit would rise to £921m.

The report discovered that 54% of councils had undertaken some form of cost of care exercises with their providers during the previous three years.

Only 34% of councils could provide the UKHCA with their own calculations of the cost of homecare during the last year. Two councils, one in Sunderland and one in Northern Ireland, “astonishingly” paid an average price below £13.08 an hour.

The UKHCA says they believe this would only cover the wage bill and reimbursing mileage, leaving the council unable to pay any other costs of running the business.

The homecare association says the current state of the sector suggests either a nation-wide risk of non-compliance with the national minimum wage, or the potential for providers to go out of business.

The average price for an hour of homecare for the elderly was higher in Scotland than England, and even higher in Wales at £16.18 per hour.

But Northern Ireland pulled the UK average down, spending just £13.70 per hour on homecare.

Back in 2015, it was first reported that councils were failing to fund the minimum wage in the homecare sector, with 28 out of 203 authorities paying their homecare providers at or above the UKHCA’s minimum price for homecare.


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