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Local authorities not paying realistic care prices.

Nine out of 10 UK local authorities are failing to pay realistic prices to support older and disabled people in their own homes, the industry says.

The UK Home Care Association  (UKHCA) calculated that the minimum price local authorities should be paying is £16.70 per hour while the average is more than £2 below this.

Local authorities say they had been left with little choice due to the Government’s squeeze on their finances.

But the UKHCA says the situation is threatening the future of the market and warns that agencies are struggling to recruit staff and maintain quality with many organisations handing back contracts to local authorities.

The warning comes after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) claimed that the sector was at ‘tipping point’ with cuts leading to more pressure on hospitals and deteriorating performance.

The home care market looks after nearly 900,000 people, providing help for daily tasks such as washing and dressing. Local authorities fund about 80 per cent of the cost.

The UKHCA asked all 208 local authorities about the fees they paid, with 186 providing data under the Freedom of Information Act.

The £16.70 minimum price calculated by the UKHCA is assessed on the cost of paying carers the national living wage and running costs for businesses with a 50p an hour profit margin.

The average paid by councils was £14.58 an hour, with Sefton, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Blackburn paying the least at under £12.

The average is higher than it was 18 months ago when the UKHCA last carried out such a survey, but the number of local authorities not paying a "fair price" has increased because the rise has not kept pace with the greater costs that come from paying the national living wage, the UKHCA claims.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.