Health Secretary asked to focus on social care as funding shortage is estimated at £892m

  • Bupa Care Homes, has called upon the newly appointed Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to focus on social care funding as his key challenge, after a recent report estimated the total funding shortfall in England to stand at a staggering £892m.

    UK director Oliver Thomas warns about the risk of allowing the current situation to continue, having recorded below-inflation care home fees for the fourth year in a row, despite an ageing population.

          "Central Government budget cuts means many councils can't afford to pay a sufficient weekly fee to operators to care for some of the most frail and elderly people in our society. Some providers simply will not be able to deliver the quality of care that we should all be able to expect.

          Fixing social care should be top of Jeremy Hunt's in-tray. The Government must recognise the urgency of the funding shortfall and allocate money to help councils pay the true cost of care now. The sector can't wait for the next Spending Review, which could be up to two years away, for politicians to make a decision on funding.

          Ultimately, if there is not adequate investment in the sector over the long term, we will see more care homes forced to close or focus on serving the self pay market to the detriment of provision in the state sector. Inadequate investment will mean even fewer places available to local authority funded residents which would leave very dependent people isolated in their own homes or placing undue pressure on the NHS."

    The Bupa report ‘Bridging the Gap' highlights the issues care homes face in securing local authority funds, recording that baseline fee rates paid by local councils increased by just 0.3% during the financial year 2011/12, while care home cost increases were estimated at 2.8%.

    These figures represent a widening of the funding gap when compared with costs from 2010/11, when council fee rates went up by 0.7% with care home costs increasing by 2.1%. In conclusion the report estimates that a total £1.78bn increase from the Treasury is required over the period 2013/16, in order to allow local authorities to support sustainable care homes and reward quality care with higher rates, and suggests that Central Government demand a yearly fee rise of between 5 and 8% each year from councils to protect any extra funding provided.

    Source: Care




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