Fees row

Councils ‘paying own care homes twice private rate’

Robert Kilgour
Robert Kilgour: we need a level playing field (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

A Scottish care home operator has accused local authorities of “hypocrisy and double standards” after documents revealed that some of their homes are paid twice as much as those in the independent and voluntary sector for providing the same service.

The documents obtained by Robert Kilgour, chairman of Renaissance Care, reveal that Edinburgh City Council reveal a proposed average fee increase of 15.66% for its own care homes, while the independent and third sector providers were recently given ‘a take it or leave it’ offer of 6.76% for nursing care and 8.3% for residential care.

From April, independent and voluntary sector care home providers across Scotland will be paid £948 a week for nursing care and £825 a week for residential care. However, some local authorities will pay themselves up to £1,815 a week for residential care and up to £1,716 a week for nursing care.

Mr Kilgour said: “We recently agreed the fee settlement for the next year with Scottish local authorities when we had a gun put to our head. I know from speaking to numerous other operators that they felt that they were simply unable to fight for six months for a better deal as many of them would have gone under due to cost pressures.

“The new fees were offered to us as a ‘fait accompli’ and do not come even close to funding care homes across Scotland that have been faced with an enormous increase in operating costs from dealing with the pandemic, the rising energy charges and the cost of living crisis.

“Edinburgh City Council’s approach is being replicated by local authorities all across the country. It is imperative that local authorities do not use care home fee underpayment as a cash cow to fix their own fiscal issues.

“Rather, what we need is local authorities to value the work of care providers and, just as importantly, value our residents by investing properly in high-quality care.

“How can it be fair that there is such a yawning funding gap between the two sectors? We must have a level playing field on fee levels.”

The independent and voluntary sector accounts for around 85% of the Scottish care home sector with local council care homes representing about 11.5% and NHS Scotland the remaining 3.5%.

Mr Kilgour, whose company operates 17 homes, continued: “The documents revealed today show there is an unbelievable degree of double standards which needs to be addressed.

“It is a grossly unfair settlement, when all care sector operators want is to be treated fairly and for our critical work to be valued.

“Sadly, I fear that many more care homes throughout Scotland will likely close over the next year as a result of this unfair and uneven treatment.” 

A local authority response is awaited.

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