Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 16:46 UK

Care homes plan action over fees

Care worker and a patient's hands
There is a dispute over the fees paid for care homes in England

A group of UK care home companies are planning legal action against all 150 English local authorities over fees, the BBC has learned.

BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme has discovered that 250 care home owners have come together to form the Fairer Fees Forum.

The group wants a judicial review of what councils pay for residents who are funded by the state.

The Forum is made up of large corporate companies and small single houses.

Ray Purewal, of Aston Brooke solicitors, is acting for the Fairer Fees Forum.

He said the current fees being paid are "far below" the cost of providing actual care, with some fees being paid totalling between £350 and £400 per week.

"Some of the fees of around £350 a week average out about £50 a day.

"You can't even get a bed and breakfast accommodation for £50 a day.

It's in the interests of the people that we're providing and buying the care for, and the providers and the local authorities, that the quality of care is good
Jenny Owen, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

"Whereas the local authorities are expecting the care homes to provide not only care but full time, 24 hour care with three meals a day and on top of that, in some cases some of the residents need nursing and other expectations from the local authority."

Mr Purewal said there were models in existence for what was considered as fair fees, which varied depending on different areas of the UK the care was taking place.

In outer London the estimate was from £463 to £538 per week, while in inner London it was £574 to £648 per week.

Mr Purewal added that "all local authorities" paid less than these sums, and that court action had become necessary because negotiations "haven't really been happening" between local authorities and care providers.

Fees increase

Jenny Owen, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said that local authorities were not asking care homes to do more for less.

"Last year we increased the fees, nationally on average, by 2.8%, and we're expecting to do the same again this year.

"That's pretty good in the current climate. We have about 2% less people year on year, for the last five years, who are going into residential care but our costs are 5% more.

"So in other words, we're paying more for less people, because people's care is becoming more complex, that's absolutely the case."

Ms Owen said there was no wish for a risk of poorer quality care.

"It's in the interests of the people that we're providing and buying the care for, and the providers and the local authorities, that the quality of care is good.

"And we are trying, but in very difficult circumstances for local authority budgets, to give a reasonable uplift, on the fees that have been negotiated."



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