Harrogate care homes could be taken over to ease costs

North Yorkshire County Council could intervene in Harrogate care homes in order to quell spiralling costs.
North Yorkshire County Council could intervene in Harrogate care homes in order to quell spiralling costs.

North Yorkshire County Council could intervene in Harrogate’s private home care scene, in a bid to quell spiralling social care costs.

Assistant county director Anton Hodge told members of the council's care and independence scrutiny committee "nothing was off the table” when it came to the action the county would take to ease pressure on ballooning social care expenses.

The committee heard 52 per cent of care home providers in the county were demanding more than the set county rate, which had been increased annually in line with inflation, the national living wage, pension costs and other factors.

Mr Hodge told members the issue was particularly acute in the Harrogate area where more than 90 per cent of care providers were demanding more than the set county rate.

It led to Coun Stanley Lumley, who sits on Harrogate Borough Council as well, asking if the county could intervene in any way, saying that current price demands had the county authority "over a barrel".

"That is not going to get better – it is only going to get worse. They have got us over a barrel, but there’s no alternative, we need to provide that care," he said.

"Does there come a point when it’s more sensible to invest in a facility that we run as North Yorkshire County Council and take some of that burden off?

"There must be a tipping point when the cost of the private sector becomes completely unacceptable."

Mr Hodge confirmed the county was looking at becoming "more involved" in care homes, including the potential ownership or part-ownership of facilities.

However Mr Hodge said issues could arise from council-employed staff having higher pay rates and pensions than the private sector, but said there were other ways the council was exploring entering the market.

"Nothing is off the table at the moment," he said.

The revelations came as councillors were told that the county was scheduled to rack up a £5.1m overspend in health and adult services - but this had been temporarily offset by central Government grants, which couldn't be relied upon in the future.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter