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Council fees are increasingly conditional on providers paying the Real Living Wage

Local authority fee increases are increasingly conditional on care providers paying the Real Living Wage, a new report into the care market concludes.

In its Care Market Review for 2022, Christie & Co reports a large disparity of fee increases across the country, from 3.1 to 12.8 per cent.

The highest increases were seen in Wales for residential care, while for dementia nursing, the East Midlands tops the poll at a 12.3 per cent uplift.

The report notes an average residential fee increase in England of 5.4 per cent, and average nursing fees increase of 6.8 per cent.

However, despite the increases, inflationary cost pressures are affecting care homes, particularly in staffing and compliance, placing greater importance on self-funding clients. On the upside, occupancy rates are expected to increase, says the report.

Christie’s says: “With lenders’ attention pivoting away from Covid-19 and towards the cost-of living, the focus is now on how operators control costs, in particular utilities and staffing.

It notes that between 2015 and 2020, over 1,500 care homes ceased trading, over two in five of which were rated ‘Good’ just two years ago. Reasons for closure were margins and cost pressures. In 2021, over half of closed homes were sold for ongoing healthcare use, and just over one in four for residential conversion.

The review also notes the following trends within care home sales:

  • Average loan sizes have increased by 5.8 per cent as people refinance to buy or expand
  • There are fewer first-time buyers (now accounting for 45 per cent of 2022 transactions).
  • Recognised lenders show preference for existing operators with proven track records
  • Buyers increasingly based further afield (48 per cent of Christie sales were by buyers based over 100 miles from their target business)
  • Corporate buyers now account for one-third of all sales
  • Increasing transactions in rural and coastal areas
  • Average of 101 per cent of asking price achieved.

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