United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), the professional organisation for domiciliary care providers, released the national and regional picture of under-funding of homecare services for older people across the United Kingdom, using data obtained under freedom of information legislation on the 4th of March.

The report exposes the level of risk that councils in Great Britain (and health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland) place on a system intended to support older people. Continued constraints on local government funding can only exacerbate an already critical situation.

Just 28 councils (of the 203 authorities where an average price could be established) paid their independent and voluntary sector homecare providers fees at or above UKHCA’s minimum price for homecare of £15.74 per hour.

The average price for an hour for homecare for older people in a sample week was:

  • United Kingdom: £13.66 per hour
  • England: £13.77 per hour
  • Wales: £14.28 per hour
  • Scotland: £13.68 per hour
  • Northern Ireland: £11.35 per hour

‘Heat maps’ in the report provide graphical illustration of prices paid by individual councils across the UK’s regions. The findings highlight the exceptionally low rates paid in Northern Ireland; a north-south divide across England; and the impact of dominant purchasing power of councils in Greater London.

UKHCA’s Policy Director, Colin Angel, said:

“Low prices paid for homecare services carry a number of risks, including poor terms and conditions for the workforce, insufficient resources to organise the service and insufficient training for the complex work that supports the increasingly frail and disabled individuals who qualify for state-funded support. Unless this underfunding is addressed, the independent and voluntary sector will continue to struggle to recruit and retain care workers with the right disposition, training and qualifications. Ultimately, the care market will become commercially unsustainable for the providers who deliver most of the homecare purchased by the state within the UK.”

The report makes recommendations for councils, providers and government in all four UK administrations, including effective oversight of authorities’ commissioning practices by independent regulators.

This report was covered in a BBC article which can be viewed online here