Vital talks over social care 'funding crisis' in Harrogate and North Yorkshire as council fights it corner
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The Independent Care Group (ICG) is meeting North Yorkshire Council to discuss the fees the local authority is offering to providers to give care to people who need support in their own home, supported living or in care and nursing homes and other settings.
In addition, it says it has a three-year investment programme purposely designed to boost social care provision across the county.
In 2021, there were warnings that social care in Harrogate was facing a "ticking time bomb" as costs for families soared above £1,000 a week.
Figures at the time showed the Harrogate district was the most expensive area in North Yorkshire to access care for loved ones with the average weekly cost of residential care year reaching £1,055 and the same figure for nursing climbing to £1,061.
It’s in that context that The Independent Care Group (ICG) is balloting its members over the proposed fee increase for 2024-25.
The ICG argues that the offer provides no increase in fees for many providers on recent and current placements, while for others it offers an increase that is less than the 9.8% rise in the National Living Wage from April.
The provider body says care providers are struggling to survive as they face ever-increasing costs, severe staffing shortages and a lack of funding for the care they provide.
The talks come as the Government announces an extra £500m for councils to pay for children’s and adult social care.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We appreciate that local authorities are suffering severe cutbacks themselves and we have every sympathy with the plight that North Yorkshire Council finds itself in but the £500m nationally is just a drop in the ocean.
"To keep delivering proper care to older and vulnerable people we need a fee increase that recognises the true cost of providing care.”
Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser: North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for health and adult services, Coun Michael Harrison, said: “We continue to support thousands of people across North Yorkshire to be independent and part of their community, while enjoying the best possible life for as long as possible.
“As a result of our investment, North Yorkshire already pays some of the highest rates to social care providers in England.
"For example, the Homecare Association recommended that the minimum hourly rate should be £25.95 and in North Yorkshire, based on a sample week, we are paying £27.80 - which is 29 per cent above the national average of £21.59.
“North Yorkshire Council has committed to a three-year programme of investment into our social care sector that is currently funded by reserves with an overall council-wide projected deficit of more than £47 million, which last week’s local government settlement will help to reduce.
“Our pro-active approach to support providers also involves our commitment to continuously lobby the Government.
"We recognise the significant financial pressures facing the social care sector and will look to continue discussions with Ministers.”
New research by the charity Hft and Care England reveals that 40% of adult social care providers were in deficit in 2023.
The ICG is campaigning for social care to be included in the main political parties’ election manifestos.