Care homes attack fee increase

Georgina Lock

Voluntary sector care home operators are up in arms about a 20 per cent increase in the fees they have to pay their regulatory body, which they claim has been sneaked through Parliament.

The Department of Health has put up the price of inspections to be implemented by The Commission for Social Care Inspection and eventually wants to see the CSCI cover its own costs.

The English Community Care Association and the Association for Real Change - an umbrella body for providers of services to people with learning disabilities - are among those arguing that the price hike will increase the already huge pressures on independent care homes.

The English Community Care Association stated that the increases meant that all care homes would now have to pay £86 per bed per annum to cover inspection costs.

In recent months, care homes have already had to deal with increases in the national minimum wage, national insurance, Criminal Records Bureau checks, and Protection Of Vulnerable Adult checks.

Jonathan Welfare, chief executive of Elizabeth Finn Trust Homes, has also voiced concern. He said: "While we appreciate that the commission is under pressure to become self-funded, this additional financial burden will have a direct impact on care home operators, many of whom are operating at the margins of sustainability, on the residents who pay fees, and on charities who subsidise care home places."

James Churchill, chief executive of the Association for Real Change, condemned the "underhand" manner in which the news was broken.

He said: "National associations like ours have been pressing for news about the increases, and yet the Government still sneaks it out in a written Parliamentary answer with as little publicity as possible."

While all the organisations subscribe to the need for inspection, they feel it is essential that care homes are remunerated in some way in order to withstand the fees hike.

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