KCC Councillor Rob Bird provides an updated report on our care homes.
Recent reports on the residential care home sector have suggested that it is facing ‘meltdown’ or 'catastrophic collapse’ with the risk of 10% of beds being lost in the next 5 years.
Most care homes are privately run. KCC runs only eight directly and is currently consulting on the future of four of these, one of them in Maidstone. However, the cumulative effect of the Tories’ austerity programme have put these arrangements under severe strain and care home providers are finding local authority business increasingly unattractive. The situation is getting worse and the consequences are potentially disastrous.
The introduction of the ‘National Living Wage’ next year will mean a pay increase for large numbers of care home staff. The impact on those homes commissioned by KCC could amount to as much as £12 million or more.
I recently asked KCC’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health for assurance that there will continue to be adequate capacity to meet the care home needs of Kent. I was not surprised that he was unable to give me this assurance. How could he?
Next year KCC will be allowed to increase council tax by 2% to cover increased social care costs in addition to the 1.99% general rise already proposed. This will raise an additional £11 million, perhaps enough to cover the costs of the National Living Wage but still leaving KCC struggling to meet increased prices and demand. KCC’s spending on adult social care is expected to be more than £7 million over budget this year.