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Campaigners are calling for national tariffs for social care to be introduced to set the price of social care packages. This is to end the current unfair squeeze on providers, argues the Independent Care Group (ICG).
The ICG says setting such national tariffs would protect care providers and give them a fairer price to deliver services.
The call comes after the President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Sarah McClinton, admitted that ‘Councils have squeezed down prices paid to providers over many years.’
ICG Chair, Mike Padgham, said:
‘It is good to see the president of ADASS give this honest account of what is happening to care providers.
‘The price paid by local authorities to care providers has been squeezed and squeezed for many years to the point where it no longer reflects anything like the true cost of looking after people in their own home or supported living or in care and nursing homes.
‘The end result is that providers are being pushed out of the market, especially with the added pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, dire staff shortages and spiralling costs.’
Mike Padgham continued to state that he understood the pressures on local authorities who had themselves been chronically under-funded by successive governments, adding ‘The current funding regime is brutal and unfair with government cuts hitting local authorities hard and pitting them in a fight with providers to buy care at the lowest possible price.
‘This is the worst possible scenario in which to provide care for our oldest and most vulnerable people. Low fees, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, the current staffing crisis and rocketing costs are combining to push providers to the edge of survival.’
Alongside a national minimum wage for care staff, the ICG is calling for national tariffs to be set which all care commissioners had to adhere to when buying care packages.
‘At the moment we have a postcode lottery of care, with providers paid different fees up and down the country, this sets providers against local authorities when we should all be working together to provide the best care. National rates would remove the need for local negotiations which are both time-consuming and divisive.’
These suggestions were part of the Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document which the ICG published last autumn. It sets out what the ICG believes are the actions required to save the sector.
The five pillars of social care are:
• Ringfence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to those who already receive it and the 1.6 million people who can’t get it.
• Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and social care.
• Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS.
• Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform.
• Fix ‘fair price for care’ tariffs for things like care beds and homecare visits.