Miles Apart: The Inadequacy Of Social Care Funding

Latest Care England Freedom of Information analysis has again highlighted the underfunding of independent sector care homes when juxtaposed with those fees paid to state-run homes.

Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, found that independent care sector, private and charitable, services were expected to provide standard residential care for less than £500, versus, state-run homes in both neighbouring and the same Local Authorities being afforded more than £700 in weekly fees. Local Authority run providers represent 7% of jobs in the sector, versus, 78% residing in the independent sector.

In some cases, this was representative of 44.38 % more being granted in fees per week per resident for 2019/20 for standard residential care, even though all services are held to the same standards by the Care and Quality Commission and quality is no better in Local Authority run homes. Research by LaingBuisson estimate the average costs of an economically run residential home between £623 to £726 depending on standard of accommodation and whether or not they are supporting people living with dementia.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England says:
“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”.

  • Manchester City Council paid fees as little as £459.74 to independent providers in 2019/20, whereas less than 20 miles away in Kirklees Metropolitan Council state-run homes received payments as high as £721.90 to provide the same type of care (older persons residential care) in the same year. This difference is representative of £13,636 over the year as a whole. In addition, other local authorities like Rotherham were given just £456 per resident per week despite being located just under 27 miles from Kirklees.
  • Similarly, Care England became aware of the same theme when juxtaposing fees evident in the localities of Sheffield City Council and Leeds City Council. The two geographical areas just 33 miles from one another, however, were much more steeply divided when it came to care home fees. For example, Leeds City Council stated in its FOI reply that it paid Local Authority care services £726 per residential resident. While in the case of Sheffield, the general residential Fee was £481. Over the course of a year, this amounts to £12,740 per resident or £318,500 in the context of a 25-bed care service. Neighbouring Rotherham independent care sector providers were too expected to provide care for as little as £456 per resident per week.
  • While in the case of Lancashire County Council fees provided for state-run, versus, independent sector run homes are particularly stark. Fees paid for residential care in Local Authority run homes stand at £656.70, versus a stark £466.55 for independent sector providers in the same local authority. Over a year, this equates to £9,890 more being paid to nationalised care homes.
  • Similarly, Wigan’s independent social care providers were expected to provide residential care for less than £450 and in contrast – as stated above – Lancashire Council paid their own providers as much as £656.70. However, both councils are located just 23.6 miles from one another.

Martin Green continues:
“The stark divide provides further evidence of the multitude of difficulties that independent sector providers face. It is incumbent upon Government to utilise the majority granted to it, to secure the future for some of society’s most vulnerable. 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.”