A media statement issued by Scottish Care regarding public funding of care homes:
Scottish Care spent 2017 warning about a growing crisis facing the care home sector. It is already clear that 2018 is showing signs of these warnings coming true. We are not exaggerating – the care home sector in Scotland is on the brink. It has never before faced such challenges to its sustainability and survival. Care homes across Scotland are facing a nurse shortage challenge with 31% of posts vacant; they are struggling to recruit care workers not least because of the relatively low wages they are able to pay. Whether a care home is run by a family, a charity or a private organisation, the majority are telling us that they are deeply concerned about their survival in 2018.
We have got to move the care of our most vulnerable older citizens from being an occasional area of debate to something at the heart of our concerns as a society. This should not be about party politics but about us all sitting around the table to create a sector worthy of our society. Part of that means we have to stop talking down care homes and start to celebrate their contribution.
We owe it to the 33,000 residents in care homes to make their care a priority and not just to be arguing over how we can save more money and make efficiencies. We need to honestly decide what the true cost of care is, not what we choose to make it or can afford to pay. Dignity comes at a price, and it is a cost we are not paying at the moment.”
We recognise that the Scottish Government has increased finding to care homes by 13% over the last 3 years. This is, we believe, not sufficient to provide a sustainable care sector in Scotland.
Much has been said in recent days of the Scottish Government commitment to paying ‘private’ providers monies in order for them to pay staff the Scottish Living Wage. This is in part the truth. Scottish Government has partly funded this over the last three years.
The reality is that staff costs including paying senior carers a wage has led to on average a 23-26% increase in staffing costs over the last 3 years for the average provider be they private or charitable. So not only have providers had to make up that difference but they have had to pay for all the other rising costs in terms of heating, lighting, food and so forth.
Now what makes the difference is that unlike any other business, care home providers cannot increase their fees for residents who are paid for by the Government.
It’s a bit like going to a supermarket, telling them what you are willing to pay for your loaf of bread and then telling them what ingredients you want in it and what they have to pay their staff who bake it.
There have also been statements made on the Apprenticeship Levy. This was effectively a jobs tax introduced by the Westminster Government. If you have a payroll over a certain amount you have to pay a certain level of tax. Unlike in England the Scottish Government have not introduced an easy system which enables care providers to access these funds. One year on, we are still seeing money going out the door with no benefit to the workers involved.