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Care England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent adult social care providers in England, has today called on the Government to urgently intervene and work with Worcestershire County Council to sustain care provision and support some of society’s most vulnerable.  


Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says: 


“The Council’s position has created a situation where multiple provider failures are likely to occur. This risks causing the Council significant additional costs in commissioning urgent replacement services as well as extreme distress to many people relying upon the services locally. The Council has completely disregarded the concerns of care providers and the impact this will have on their residents, their families, and the wider community. The Council has placed itself in an ivory tower above judgement or recourse. Care England remains committed to finding a resolution which enables those who need care in Worcestershire to access the right care at the right time, and where care providers feel part of a collaborative partnership.” 


For adults under the age of 65, Worcestershire County Council (the Council) proposes that all providers must use a cost-calculating template for every setting/ individual, just for the chance of increased funding of up to 4.03%. This is an extremely lengthy process for an uplift that is negligible at best.  


On top of this, the Council has launched a new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) Framework for adults over the age of 65 with capped rates from April 2024 that are lower than what they currently pay on average; an attempt to cut costs to those in much-need of support. 


This comes against a backdrop of care providers facing significant increases in operating costs. Including but not limited to the National Living Wage increase of 9.8% from April 2024 (this number increases by 0.5% for care providers due to the Employer’s National Insurance Threshold being frozen) and inflationary pressures at a minimum of 6.7%, according to Office of National Statistics data.  


Care providers require an increase in funding between 10% to 12%, simply to meet the significant cost pressures that are already unmet. With the current position taken by the council, care providers in Worcestershire may have no other option but to close, or reduce, their services. 


This is not just a matter of market sustainability but ensuring the people in Worcestershire can access the level of support they deserve.  


To support the market in Worcestershire, Care England wrote to the council to acknowledge and seek to overcome these growing concerns through partnership working. Instead, the worries of local providers were outright refuted by the Council on the basis that the DPS Framework had been discussed at well-attended meetings with care providers, most of whom had provided positive feedback.  


At the request of the Council, Care England has subsequently shared their feedback with care providers in Worcestershire to reflect on the Council’s comments. The below feedback represents the thoughts of those providers, and elucidates how detrimental the Council’s position is: 


We have decided to not bid for the framework… if we are unable to reach a positive outcome we will be moving away from working with Worcestershire.” Care provider 1 


“They [the Council] are such liars. I have sent letters three years in a row [regarding cost pressures] with no response back. There has not been any formal meeting, so how it can be well attended is utter nonsense.” Care provider 2  


“They have launched a framework going forward which is at a fixed and low price without any guaranteed annual uplift. We will not be joining that.” Care provider 3   


“We do not agree with their [the Council’s] letter that implies that providers are happy with their offer and the level of engagement. There never has been any engagement with us over fees until we get to the stage of having to serve notice on placements and involve families and advocates to help our cause. We should not have to do this and do not want to do this due to the stress and angst it causes our staff, residents and relatives but it has been the only way we have been able to get anything even remotely sensible as an annual fee uplift.” Care provider 4 


“We have consistently said that our costs were evidenced in the cost of care review that was conducted in late 2022 and that inflation has been running at 10% for 2023 and 2024.  This price setting ignores entirely that process, and to date, the council still have not shared how they cost the care at such low levels.” Care provider 5 


“This should be escalated to the Department of Health and Social Care for urgent action as it is clear Worcestershire County Council are failing to sustain their local market and by direct action jeopardising the provision of appropriate and quality care to its citizens.” Care provider 6 


“They have never agreed to meet or directly discuss our concerns with us. As you mention in your letter to them, this is also a different approach to most other local authorities who will at least meet and discuss provider concerns.” Care provider 7 


“We do not believe their fee uplift offer for 2024/25 is fair and it falls far below our expected cost inflation for next year.” Care provider 8 


“Worcester County Council consistently offer fee uplifts which are the lowest of any local authority and ICB that we work with across the UK.” Care provider 9 


“Some providers will feel they cannot do this [refuse to sign up to the DPS Framework] and as such Worcester will continue to squeeze providers on fees with little regard to best interests or the needs of their residents.” Care provider 10  


“I am flabbergasted at their reply.” Care provider 11 


“For some homes, we do not have a choice.  To not sign up would mean our businesses would fail in short order.” Care provider 12 


“A shallow, antagonistic and predictable response.” Care provider 13

Care England wants to work with Worcestershire County Council to have meaningful discussions to sustain care locally. We do not believe care providers have a representative voice and decisions which threaten the sustainability of care provision have been made without due consideration to care provider viability and the impact on some of the most vulnerable members of society they care for.