Posted: Thu 21st Jul 2022

Council slammed as ‘meanest in Wales’ for providing lowest funding to care homes

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jul 21st, 2022

Flintshire Council has been slammed as the “meanest in Wales” after it was revealed to provide the lowest level o funding for care homes in the country.

The latest figures published by Care Forum Wales (CFW) highlight that funding for individual residents in Flintshire is currently up to £11,000 a year less per person than in other parts of Wales for delivering the same services.

Statistics shared by the forum place the local authority at the bottom of the table in Wales in terms of weekly fees paid to care providers.

The average sum of just over £693 compares to around £885 in Torfaen, which pays the highest amount in the country.

It’s also below the all-Wales average of over £752 and as a result, CFW has awarded the council with a giant, five foot tall wooden spoon.

One Flintshire care home owner, who did not wish to be named, said the relatively low funding had left them unable to afford to decorate their facility.

They said: “I am left feeling physically sick when I see the levels of funding for people in care in other parts of Wales.

“It is our residents who are suffering from the penny-pinching attitude of Flintshire Council but it costs the same to look after someone in Flintshire as it does in Gwynedd or Merthyr but Flintshire Council pay a lot less.

“I love my job. I love the role of supporting and caring for people who need that help and the days that I’m hands on and providing that care are the best days of my week.

“Ten years ago I enjoyed the management side of the job as well but not any more, not when we’re starved of the necessary funding which means I can’t afford to decorate or even properly clean the place and I know that council-owned homes are decorated every year.”

CFW, which represents independent social care providers, has previously claimed a “fee-fixing cartel” is in existence among local authorities in north Wales.

The organisation said that changed when Gwynedd Council’s cabinet voted unanimously to increase fees by up to 25 per cent.

Elsewhere in Wales, Torfaen Council announced large increases in their rates at 17 per cent for residential care and 25 per cent for nursing care.

It means that a 50-bed care home in Torfaen will receive £546,000 a year more for providing residential EMI (elderly mentally infirm) care than a similar sized home in Flintshire for the same levels of care.

Flintshire Council has defended its position as it receives one of the lowest levels of core funding in Wales to spend on frontline services.

The local authority’s chief officer for social services, Neil Ayling, said: “Flintshire has developed a very positive relationship with care home providers in Flintshire and providers help, guidance, advice and training to support our independent care home providers.

“Flintshire is one of three lowest funded councils in Wales, making the most of local resources is important to us and we prioritise as much resource as we can to supporting care homes.

“Over the past five years, we have put an additional £10.5M into commissioned care over and above the budget, including £4.3m in 2022-23.

“We have always worked in partnership with our providers and if individual organisations have challenges, we work with them to address those challenges.”

The council also shared positive testimonials from two care home operators in the county.

It includes praise from the owner of Bryn Edwin Hall care home in Flint, who said they had received “exceptional service” from the authority during the Covid pandemic.

However, Mario Kreft, chair of CFW which represents around 500 of the country’s independent care providers, has also criticised the authority.

He said: “We are in an absurd situation where you can go from north to south Wales and find a person in Flintshire with exactly the same needs and receiving exactly the same service but in Torfaen they receive £11,000 more per person a year for providing it.

“Either the likes of Torfaen are being totally profligate with council tax payers money or Flintshire need to step up to the plate and meet their statutory, lawful obligations by recognising the true cost of social care.”

Meanwhile, Mary Wimbury, chief executive of CFW, has called for a reform of the way fees are decided.

She said:  “What we need now is a complete overhaul of the system and the introduction of a sensible and fair national framework for commissioning a national fee which ensures realistic and sustainable rates that cover the true cost of care and allow providers to properly reward their valued workforce.

“This is becoming increasingly urgent because the demographics are going in one direction with the recently published census results show that one in five people in Wales are now aged 65 or over.”

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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