Anger Over £1.2m Care Home Savings In Lancashire

Public consultations are set to take place on proposed £1.2million savings to care funding in a fresh blow to those living in residential homes across East Lancashire.

County councillors are looking at limiting the amount of support they give to care homes, as part of an effort to find £1.59million in efficiency savings for next year’s budget.

The move comes just weeks after Lancashire County Council raised the needs threshold at which they will provide full care packages, resulting in more people being forced to pay for home assistance and support.

advertisementWhile politicians say they need to impose the restrictions to keep council tax bills down, care home leaders say they will lobby Whitehall to highight their funding nightmares.

Under the new proposals, increases in contributions to care homes will be limited to three-and-a-quarter per cent for the non-domiciliary care budget and three-and-a-half per cent for domiciliary care.

The county council estimates that this will save £1.2million over three years but it falls well below the extra seven to eight per cent rise which care home owners in Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley say is necessary.

Paul Simic, chief executive of the Lancashire Care Association, the industry’s representative body, says the costs increase required is worked out using a fair price for care’ funding mechanism.

He said that the association worked closely with the county council in discussing issues around funding and accepted central Government funding placed extra burdens on the authority.

But care homes had encountered a number of major increases this year, including substantial wage rises for senior care staff and investment in staff development.

Mr Simic said he would be lobbying Ivan Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, to press home the need for additional funding.

He said: “We are facing an impossible task and there is an issue with how the system is going to be funded in future.”

County council bosses admit that the savings proposals could put extra pressures on hard-pressed care homes and even cause more of them to fail.

But Coun Anne Brown, executive member for resources, said measures had to be taken to limit spending, given the increasing pressures presented by an ageing population to care sector spending.

Coun Brown said: “This is certainly a point which we make to central government – there is increased demand from people living longer and people with severe needs living longer, particularly young adults surviving for longer with very complex needs. It is very expensive to provide that care.

“We are struggling to balance the budget with greater demands. We appreciate that these services are provided for the very vulnerable and we value our relationship with the care providers.

“But we are aware that a lot of people struggle to pay their council tax and we have to keep any increases to that as low as possible.”

As part of the same process, the county council is also consulting on plans to axe more commercial and school bus services, which would save £330,000 over three years.