County Care Bill Is Among Highest

The average weekly cost of looking after an adult in the care of social services in Oxfordshire is among the highest in the country – £679 a week. The county comes near the top of a league table showing the cost per person of intensive social care services. But the man heading the service in Oxfordshire said the situation would not improve as long as the county remained one of the most affluent in the region. Charles Waddicor, pictured, director of social and community services, said: “The figure refers to the average weekly spend on care homes and some home support packages for adults aged 18 and over.

“Oxfordshire is a very affluent area, with high employment. It is also a rural area, so costs of travelling for home support staff are comparatively high.”

Other local authorities with high care home costs are Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham. Councils with the lowest costs included the Isle of Wight, Southend and South Lanarkshire in Scotland.

Mr Waddicor added: “The council does everything in its power to keep costs down while still providing care for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. It competes for beds in care homes with a very large number of private payers prepared to pay comparatively high prices for care.

“On the home support front, the council has its own staff for the more complex cases, as well as contracts with private providers. Both we and our partner providers must pay relatively high wages to attract home support workers who might otherwise get a job in a supermarket or similarly paid work. This pushes up costs.”

The council has already spent £250,000 more on social care at this stage of the financial year than projected, and it is almost certain this figure will more than double by the end of March next year as demand for council-run services grows due to NHS cuts.

Paul Maloney, spokesman for trades union GMB, which collected the figures, said: “Councils need to realise that it is not possible to provide elderly residents with residential and nursing care on the cheap.”