Quality of homecare concerns raised in debate over Telford & Wrekin budget cuts
Telford & Wrekin’s ageing population could be at an increased risk of harm if the authority doesn’t tackle the increasing gulf between the cost of providing homecare and its level of funding.
That’s the view of Shropshire Partners in Care (SPIC) in response to the council’s budget consultation that will go to councillors next week.
SPIC, a not for profit organisation that represents 83 per cent of independent care providers in Telford & Wrekin, said the council needs to provide a seven per cent (7%) uplift in its funding for home care in the next financial year or face jeopardising the standard of care available.
It is also urging the council to join forces and work together to lobby central Government for a better funding package.
SPIC provided its official response to the council, which is facing budget cuts of £30m, following a consultation meeting with key officers and care providers.
The council is proposing three options on top of a basic two per cent (2%) increase in adult social care council tax – a freeze, an additional 1.2% increase or a 1.9% increase. No further increases could be allowed without a public referendum.
Nicky Jacques, Chief Officer of Shropshire Partners in Care, described the situation as “entirely unsustainable”.
“We accept that the council is facing a difficult situation but the changing nature of the borough indicates there is a significant shift in the future demographic profile with a big increase expected in the number of older people living in Telford & Wrekin.
“The current fee of up to £14 per hour rate paid by the council already falls well below the recommended hourly rate of £15.74*. Without an increase in the fees being paid, providers will find it almost impossible to meet the new National Living Wage that becomes law in April and increased pension contributions that will be enforced in the next two years.
“The real concern is that home care providers will cease to operate if they are not financially viable and this would result in a shortage in provision and the availability of care at home. This will lead to increased waits for care at home and delayed hospital discharges awaiting packages of care.”
Mrs Jacques added: “There is a very real and immediate risk posed to the homecare sector – it really is entirely unsustainable.
“The issue for the future will be how the local community, which is evidently ageing and becoming more frail, can be supported by the correct type and level of care and how care providers can be encouraged to invest and develop those services in what has become an ever challenging business environment.
“We recognise that the council has significant budget pressures and we would support a collaborative approach to lobby central government for fairer funding for care in the future, but the time for leadership is now, the vulnerable people and those who support them simply cannot wait.”