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Residential Care (Funding)

Volume 548: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2012

12. What assessment he has made of the effect on residential care providers of reductions in local authorities’ budgets. (117290)

Local authorities choose how best to use their funding; however, the levels of residential care provision are not determined solely by local council social care budgets. The supply of care home places is governed principally by demand from both public commissioners, such as local councils and the NHS, and private purchasers of services.

Nine out of 10 residential home providers say that low council fees are creating a two-tier system, as new investment is directed at wealthier areas where there are more people who can self-fund, and 82% of those providers say that self-funders are being charged more to cross-subsidise local authority-funded residents. This clearly is not fair, so what is the Minister going to do to rectify the situation?

We know from the most recent survey published by Laing and Buisson that there has been a 1.4% increase in the fees paid this year, compared with no increase last year. We also know that there is a surplus of places, which accounts for about 10% of the total number of bed places available in care homes up and down the country. So there is actually space, and it is entirely appropriate for local authorities to negotiate appropriate prices to provide good-quality care from one locality to another.

Following the census announcement yesterday that there are elderly hot spots, including North Yorkshire, will this is be a good opportunity for the Minister and the Government to review health and social care funding to reflect a growing elderly population in sparsely populated, isolated rural areas such as North Yorkshire?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight those issues and the emerging findings from the survey. It is important to say that data will be a key consideration in how the next spending review is shaped, along with the priorities that the Government will give to different demographic pressures as a result.