“This figure doesn’t just cover salaries but everything from training to cover for holidays and absence, essential office co-ordinators, administrators and the days of bad weather when calls can take four times as long to complete. The BBC research, carried out for the Radio 4 programme File on Four, has shown that the average hourly rate paid by councils is nowhere near £15.19. In fact it is just £12.26.”
Mrs Marriott-Lavery continued: “Like most providers, we work hard to ensure that we deliver a compassionate, quality service with well-trained carers and support workers. However, with councils paring back costs, the sector is struggling to maintain quality at the prices commissioners are prepared to pay. My fear is that some of the better provider organisations and individual care professionals will walk away from this kind of work as they cannot see a way to maintain the kind of high quality service they want to deliver.”
The research carried out by the BBC also showed that councils facing ever-tighter budgets are not increasing the amount that they are prepared, or able, to pay for homecare in the future.
Care UK understands that the BBC asked all councils whether the minimum they paid for an hour of care had gone up in the last three years. Of 88 authorities which answered, just eight had raised their rates by more than six percent – the amount by which the minimum wage has gone up since 2011. A quarter of those which replied had actually cut rates despite the costs of providing the service going up in that period.
Mrs Marriott-Lavery concluded “This isn’t just an issue for councils – this is a matter for the whole of society. If we want the care and support provided to some of the frailest, most vulnerable members of our society to be good, we all have to accept that those services have to be properly resourced to deliver the high quality care that we all want to see. We must appreciate what the current social care support delivered to older people who wish to remain at home does to reduce admission into hospital and how it offers a real alternative to residential care.
“We have to recognise caring as a profession and maintain the public respect and financial rewards that hardworking carers deserve. That means councils paying more. It also means provider organisations finding new ways to make services efficient and resilient without compromising quality.”