Care providers complain of underfunding

United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), the professional organisation for domiciliary care providers has published figures showing British councils are not meeting minimum payments for homecare visits.

Just 28 councils (of the 203 authorities where an average price could be established) paid their independent and voluntary sector homecare providers fees at or above UKHCA's minimum price for homecare of £15.74 per hour.

The average price for an hour for homecare for older people in a sample week was:

* United Kingdom: £13.66 per hour

* England: £13.77 per hour

* Wales: £14.28 per hour

* Scotland: £13.68 per hour

* Northern Ireland: £11.35 per hour

UKHCA's Policy Director, Colin Angel, said:

"Low prices paid for homecare services carry a number of risks, including poor terms and conditions for the workforce, insufficient resources to organise the service and insufficient training for the complex work that supports the increasingly frail and disabled individuals who qualify for state-funded support. Unless this underfunding is addressed, the independent and voluntary sector will continue to struggle to recruit and retain careworkers with the right disposition, training and qualifications. Ultimately, the care market will become commercially unsustainable for the providers who deliver most of the homecare purchased by the state within the UK."