THE boss of a care home provider has spoken out against the practice of inflating the fees of private residents to make up for a shortfall in council cash.
A recent report by the House of Commons’ Communities and Local Government (DCLG) committee found many local authorities were paying less than the full cost of residential care.
Providers had to find the extra money from private residents, with some reporting they were explicitly told by councils to raise their private fees.
Mark Aitchison, chief executive of Ringwood-based Colten Care – which has 20 homes across the south – agreed with the report’s call for a more sustainable funding solution.
The cross-party Commons committee said subsidisation was not only unfair but risked polarising the market, as providers in more affluent areas would find it easier to charge higher private rates.
Mr Aitchison said: “The country certainly faces a major challenge regarding the provision of elderly care but people shouldn’t feel subsidisation is the case with all operators. Those like us, who don’t rely on social services funding, aren’t affected.
“Well over 90 per cent of our residents are privately funded and we work very hard to avoid subsidisation. We fundamentally disagree with the principle of residents funding other residents’ care needs.”
He added: “Subsidisation is unfair to private fee payers who may have worked all their lives to amass assets to pay for their own care. For them to go on to find that a percentage of their fee is going to support other people’s needs is just plain wrong.”
He said when a Colten Care resident’s capital was depleted to the point where they were in need of a social services contribution, the company sought to negotiate with the council and family members to keep them in their preferred home.He added: “We are proud that no-one living in our homes subsidises anyone else. At the same time, we agree with the MPs’ headline call for a properly funded care system nationally that is fairer, simpler and sustainable to meet the needs of our ageing population.”
Clive Betts, chair of the DCLG committee, said when publishing the report: “In many cases, councils will not be meeting the cost of their residents at all and constantly re-negotiating down how much they were willing to spend, so care providers have no choice but to find the money from their private residents.”