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Care homes should detail their costs, including profits, by April

Providers have been challenged to produce clear and comparable information over fee levels and a breakdown of how this money is spent, MPs have said in a new report.

Writing in the Public Accounts Committee report on the adult social care markets, MPs say that neither local authorities nor people paying for care have access to clear information on what they get for their money. Seeking financial clarity on, for example, the costs of accommodation, workforce, debt interest and profit, MPs said: “There is a dearth of information about how providers spend the fees they receive from local authorities and individuals. A lack of data means the Department cannot assess if providers offer value for money.”

MPs have asked providers to supply this information by April 2022.

The report contends that people who pay for their own care pay a 41 per cent premium, with decisions made at time of crisis as people try and navigate a confusing market. In total, spend on local authority arranged care is around £23 billion a year, and estimates suggest individuals separately pay for around £8.3 billion worth of care.

The report continues: “Individuals and local authorities should not be in the dark as to what they get for their money. “

The report, the seventh made by PAC on adult social care, also criticises the DHSC for its poor oversight over local authorities’ provision of care and its apparent complacency over the risks of local market failure.

Among various recommendations for this year are the following:

  • By July 2021 an assessment and outline of the support providers need in the short to medium term to deal with COVID-19 and lower occupancy in care homes.
  • By the end of 2021 a comprehensive, cross-government reform plan for care and a multi-year funding settlement  
  • By the end of 2021 a national strategy for the care workforce.

In response, Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF) said: “The report brings to the fore the very real challenges of cross subsidy arrangements within care. However, the Committee does not go far enough in terms of calling out the inequity of that cross-subsidy arrangement, and they should be arguing for a fair price for care. It is absolutely not acceptable for any government or local authority to countenance the position that “most local authorities pay providers below the cost of care”. 

In response, Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF), said: “The report brings to the fore the very real challenges of cross subsidy arrangements within care. However, the Committee does not go far enough in terms of calling out the inequity of that cross-subsidy arrangement, and they should be arguing for a fair price for care. It is absolutely not acceptable for any government or local authority to countenance the position that “most local authorities pay providers below the cost of care”.  

In an Adass activity survey, adult social services’ directors report a “deluge” of requests for care and support from older people and disabled people of working age. In the face of sharply rising numbers of people coming forward for help, directors fear that people will have to wait longer for less care and support unless the Government steps in with more funding and launches its long-awaited social care reforms.    

In the survey directors were asked how need for care and support compared with last November. Respondents said:

  • 69 per cent agreed that more people were being referred for support from the community. Almost half of directors reported a rise of more than 10 per cent over the six months
  • 68 per cent said more people were presenting with mental health issues.

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