Wales leads the way in local authority fee increases

Welsh local authority fee rates rose at the fastest rate in all Great Britain, showing an average increase of 3.5 per cent, according to the fourth annual Adult Social Care report from business property adviser Christie & Co.

In Scotland the average local authority fee increase was 3.4 per cent, leaving the average English fee increase lagging with 3.3 per cent.

The report draws its data from a survey of local authorities and Freedom of Information Act requests. Additional points to note about the level of fees paid across the country include: 

England: Average fee increase comprises a 3.4 per cent increase for residential care and 3.5 per cent for nursing care. This represents a drop on 2017, when fee increases were 3.9 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.  There is ongoing regional disparity in fees paid; London and the South pay more than in the North and Midlands. 

Wales: There are significant variations by local authority and by type of care

Scotland: Scottish fee increases are subject to a commitment from operators to pay the Scottish Living Wage.

Looking at type of care across the country as a whole, elderly care attracted a lower fee increase than specialist care  – 3.9 per cent versus 4.2 per cent, compared to 2017. Larger operators, in particular, appeared to be able to secure the highest  local authority elderly care fee increases, although the increases paid may also reflect residents’ increasing care needs, as well as increasing care quality.  

Operators were able to increase private fees by an average of 3.9 per cent compared to the previous year. 

The report also looks at staffing challenges, as well as the causes and impacts of winter 2017/18 which saw unprecedented levels of pressure on NHS hospital trusts. Key points relating to staffing include:

  • The 2018 report outlines the continued challenges the sector faces in both recruiting and retaining trained staff. According to the report, the year has seen a 13 per cent drop in total nurse registrations.  The removal of the cap on Tier 2 visas for overseas nurses is seen as a positive development, however.
  • Agency staff are becoming more expensive. However, in specialist care, agency usage has gone up marginally whilst overall agency costs have fallen, indicating that agency staff are being used for lower paid support staff roles in specialist care, as opposed to more expensive, trained nursing staff  
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