Date: 1st April 2016 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CQC and the NLW – Issues facing the Care Sector in Kent
Following the start of the National Living Wage from the 1st April 2016 which has been well covered with regards the increase in costs for those serving the private care sector in Kent, the sector has now been dealt another blow with the underhand announcement of the increase of CQC fees for private healthcare providers. The increase sees a further 12% increase on the 12% increase in 2015. Adding to the 6% NLW increase and the 2-3% increase for auto enrolment pensions and National insurance.
In March 2016, later than expected, Kent County Council finally announced that the increase they would be supporting its providers for the National Living Wage in Residential Care homes was 1.5% and for Domiciliary Care providers it would be 4.38%. Both are woefully below the required figures for care providers to stand still let alone cover the cost increases which have been born by the government and the not the private sector itself.
The misunderstanding on the subject seems to be that the Care Sector although a private sector, is very different to that of say the retail sector where by prices of its products and services can be increased in small increments on volume to cushion the increases imposed. Adversely the care sector having for many to rely on government funding for their services, especially in that of younger adults are fixed at a fee controlled by the local authorities. Meaning that he cost increases has to be consumed by the providers putting further pressures on their ability to operate effectively. Now linked to the CQC and their ever increasing demand for improvements and excellence in care, there seems to be a stark misalignment of the too mind-sets. How are the private care providers going to strive for excellence in care through innovation and creativity if there is simply no ability for them to re-invest in their organisations in which to do so?
The Kent Integrated Care Alliance (KICA) alongside national bodies (NCA) have reacted with disappointment at the Care Quality Commission’s hike in fees to adult social care providers, accusing the regulator of inflicting “maximum discomfort” to providers by ignoring the responses they received about the fees paid to them.
Despite the fact that the responses ‘expressed a strong preference’ for a four year strategy, CQC has decided to opt for the two year option citing the GSR (Government Spending Review) as their reason, rather than work within a tighter financial envelope like everyone else.
“The fact that they have decided to wait to the 11th hour to let providers know demonstrates their total lack of understanding or judgment when it comes to social care provision at this moment in time; sadly this is not the first time they have done this,” the NCA stated in a statement.
The CQC as an organisation has clearly failed to meet its targets over the last few years failing providers and service users who are waiting for inspection or even reviewed second visits for months on end with delays which have serious implications for the providers long term development and those who are in their care.
David Behan, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, conceded that the new fees would not be popular. “We understand that the scheme that has been put forward is not the one the majority of those who took part in our consultation would have preferred,” he said. “In order to achieve our requirement to the Government and commitment to the taxpayer, we need to work towards reaching full cost recovery while reducing our overall budget by at least £32 million.
As a trade association the Kent Integrated Care Alliance believe that it seems the purpose of the consultation seems to be irrelevant and begs the question why to consult in the first place when it seems little or none of the feedback has been taken on board, and for providers in Kent who are already notorious under funded by greater than 20% on other local authorities in the South East of England it adds further insult to injury. Building on the lack of collaboration between departments during the spending review. As these cost are now outside of consideration for Kent County Council having been announced so late in the day after their own spending review. Surely a more linked up approach would have helped, seeing as all departments are working towards or should be, a common goal of improved care services for their local areas.
Care England has added its voice to growing anger over this week’s hike in CQC fees for care homes, call it “yet another Government-induced blow to the care sector, which is reeling from the introduction of the new national living wage and enrolment, among other cost increases”.
Professor Martin Green, OBE, chief executive of Care England, criticized the CQC for brushing aside advice from industry experts before springing its new fees on care homes. “The fact that CQC did a consultation, which they acknowledged has been ignored, is even more evidence of the arrogance of the government and its “arm length” bodies,” says Mr. Green.
Care England has always accepted that the CQC would have to become less of a burden on taxpayers by raising fees to care organisations, but warns that the regulator must now raise its game to ensure that the organisations paying for its inspections feel they are getting value for money.
“Now the cost burden of regulation has shifted from the government to the care sector, the CQC is going to have to sharpen up its act and deliver a much more efficient, effective and timely service to care providers,” Mr. Green urges.
“The CQC will now be in a customer supplier relationship with the care sector, and we will expect to see value for our money and clear service standards on response times, and factual accuracy amendments,” he adds.
The new fees will see a £451 increase in CQC’s annual fee to £4212 for a care home with 26-30 residents.
The fee varies depending on the size of the care home, with larger homes paying more per resident than smaller operators. A typical care home with 61-65 residents – often considered an optimum size for business returns – will be charged £9,913 per year from April 1, roughly £157 per resident per year. A 90-bed care home will pay £15,499, or £172.21 per resident per year.
Finally Adam Hutchison Vice Chair of the Kent Integrated Care Alliance was invited to comment Live on ITV’s Good Morning Britain earlier this week on the impact of the National Living Wage on providers in Kent being a difficult but required cost to bare but encouraged people looking in from the outside that “providers will absolutely be consuming the cost but may have to change their business models, as we are already seeing an increased focus on a private funded market with providers concentrating their efforts on a higher fee paying structure, the worry is that those who rely on local authority funding may end up with nowhere to go as the sector simply cannot afford to admit them into there care, which is not really fair”