Authorities’ underpayment of homecare fees is driving staff away

Homecare fee rates paid by the NHS and local councils are too low to ensure professionals can be hired to assist people at home.  

New research by the Homecare Association, the only organisation in England dedicated to supporting homecare providers, has revealed the average price being paid by public organisations for homecare in England is below the cost of recruiting skilled homecare professionals.

Due to low pay, staff are leaving the sector, leading to a deterioration in health of the people living in the community, adding to the pressure on the NHS and reducing access to medical treatments.

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Homecare Association CEO, Dr Jane Townson has said that without investment from the government, the social care workforce will continue to decrease.

Dr Townson said: ‘Older and disabled people are already having to sit on council waiting lists, unable to receive the care they need.’

‘NHS trusts are struggling to ensure rapid ambulance response times and to reduce waiting lists, as discharge from hospital is hampered by inadequate capacity in social care and community services.’

The Homecare Association’s minimum price for paying homecare workers is £23.30 per hour, but the average fee rate paid for homecare in England by local authorities was £19.01 per hour.

The report also found the average rate being paid by the NHS was £18.76 per hour.

Seven councils were found to be paying workers minimum wage, paying below direct staff costs that have been calculated at £16.57.

Dr Townson said: ‘These low fee rates from councils and the NHS lead directly to homecare workers experiencing poor pay and terms and conditions of employment.

‘It’s hardly surprising there is an exodus of home care workers, as fuel prices remain high, and they are struggling to pay their household bills.’

With fuel costs continuing to rise, home care workers have resulted to changing their jobs to working in retail and hospitality.

Skills for Care has reported a decrease in filled posts of 50,000 in the social care sector in the year ending 2021/22 compared with 2021/21.

The homecare vacancy rate has reached 14.8% this year, which is the highest ever recorded.

Without an increase in the workforce, demand for homecare cannot be met. This is having an adverse impact on council waiting lists for care, which have reached over 500,000, ambulance response times and waiting lists for diagnoses and treatment by the NHS.

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger


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