Bucks County Council under scrutiny for not responding to cost pressures faced by care homes

View of the Bucks County Council offices
View of the Bucks County Council offices

Care providers have slammed Bucks County Council for not responding to “increasing cost pressures” faced by the county’s care homes.

Care England, which represents independent care providers across the country, has questioned why council-paid care home fees were not increased at 60 per cent of placements across the county in 2018/19.

Bucks care homes are closing “at an alarming rate” due to increasing costs, including rising staff wages, according to Care England.

CEO of Care England, Martin Green, fears care homes may eventually stop housing council–funded residents in the face of rising cost pressures, adding Bucks County Council will be to blame for “the decline in social care services”.

Mr Green said: “Care homes in Buckinghamshire have been subject to a range of inflationary increases, many of which have been levied by the Government.

“These include the auto-enrolment of pensions, the national living wage, the cost of regulation being transferred from the Government to the care home.

“All these increases are on top of the general price inflation such as increases in energy and fuel costs.

“Ultimately, we may also see some services closing, and the impact on people’s lives will be enormous. 

“If this happens, the responsibility for the decline in Buckinghamshire social care services will be directly the fault of the council and its elected members.”

However cabinet member for health and wellbeing at the county council Lin Hazell, said the situation in Bucks is “significantly more complex” than what has been reported by Care England.

She said: “There has been significant stress on local authority and health budgets and therefore our scarce resources have been targeted on areas of evidenced need.

“Over 40% of our older people care home placements have had an increase for 2018-19 and money has also been set aside in the budget to fund legislative changes, where there is a cost to providers. 

“For example, through national living wage increases, Buckinghamshire County Council and local care providers are continuing to work constructively with to make best use of limited funds.”