In response to the recent announcement of the fee uplift by Cornwall Council, the CPIC committee have written to Kate Kennally, Chief Executive at Cornwall Council with copies to other key personnel such as the Portfolio holder Cllr Rob Rotchell and all local MPs on behalf of the sector.
Cornwall Partners in Care acknowledges the recent announcement of a fee uplift of 1.72% for Care Homes and 1.86% for Home Care Providers, however this increase falls significantly short of the sector's expectations.
As outlined in our Cost Pressures 2020 report, social care providers in Cornwall would need an uplift of around 2.3% to 2.4% in order to cover the annual rise in core costs, such as inflation, the Foundation Living Wage, pension contributions, CQC fees, insurance premium increases etc. It is expected that the offer made to the sector will just about cover the increase in the Foundation Living Wage and will leave Providers with yet another challenge of finding ways to cut costs to balance the books. Unfortunately, there will now be the temptation for providers to reduce the quality of care in order to maintain their financial viability. It is of note that every time Local Authorities have failed to uplift contract fees at or near the figure recommended by the relevant trade associations as being necessary to maintain the quality of care, there has been a direct reduction in the general quality of care, leading to increased safeguarding alerts and complaints to LAs.
To give some context to this fee uplift when compared to other parts of the Country, we have found only one Local Authority that has offered a lower increase - 1.56% for commissioned care beds, although they have offered a higher increase of 1.9% for Home Care packages. The range of fee increases across other areas extends from 2% to 5%. Indeed, there is one LA which has granted a fee increase of 5% together with a “Covid-19, once only, bonus” of a further 5%.
Providers are extremely grateful for the grant support from central Government which has helped them deal with situations such as increased demand for PPE, improvement to infection prevention and control, and HR support through the furlough scheme, access to Statutory Sick Pay, etc. It should be recognised however, both locally and nationally, that most Providers have spent far in excess of the grants received in meeting the needs of their clients and in keeping their staff and services safe and operational. It also needs to be recognised that, like the NHS who we are constantly being told, are exhausted, so are the providers. However, the exhaustion of the providers is not limited to physical and mental exhaustion but includes fiscal exhaustion as they have literally “thrown money at the problem” of limiting the spread of Covid-19.
In April 2020, the fee increase of 3% was just about sufficient for most Providers to break even with the increase in costs that occurred at that time. The annual rise in costs over the last 12 months has been far more significant than at any point over the last 25 years.
Our Cost Pressures 2020 report did not include any reference to the increase in costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic as the financial data was not available to be included at the time of the report. Now that this financial information is becoming clearer with an unprecedented rise in costs faced by the whole social care sector, if there is going to be any expectation of recovery, growth, and improvement, significant short and long-term investment will be required to avoid catastrophic market failure.
CPIC will publish an update on the financial effects of the pandemic on providers in early April and a more detailed Cost Pressures Report by the Autumn of 2021, which will provide some clarity on the cost impact that Covid-19 has had on Providers. We hope that this information will be useful during discussions and calculations for fee increases from April 2022.
In the meantime, CPIC requests that the fee increase decision is reviewed by the Council and raised to the level suggested in our original report.
Cornwall Partners in Care
Address list: Kate Kennally, Helen Charlesworth May, Cllr Rob Rotchell, Jonathan Price, Derek Thomas MP, Scott Mann MP, Sheryll Murray MP, Steve Double MP, George Eustice MP, Cherilyn Mackrory MP
Further Info: Our original Cost Pressures Report 2020 and the summary are available HERE.