Change to care-home payment structure in Northumberland

Northumberland Gazette latest
Northumberland Gazette latest

A change to the fee structure which is expected to increase payments to Northumberland care homes by around £1million a year has been agreed.

The county council had already been reviewing the contract for social care in light of concerns raised by care homes that the fees paid to them were too low when the Government announced extra funding in the March budget.

The additional money decreases over the next three years, with Northumberland getting an extra £6.4million in the current financial year, dropping to £2.1million in 2019/20.

This funding made it possible to consider revising the fees paid in the county, even if the council did not agree with all of the arguments being put forward by Care North East – Northumberland (CNEN), the provider association.

Under the new structure, the council’s quality weighted payment system has been discontinued with the new contracts primarily basing fee levels on the home’s Care Quality Commission rating.

The gap between the highest and lowest rates has been reduced, while premiums for dementia have further increased. A new premium has been introduced for smaller care homes too (30 beds or fewer and 31 to 40 beds).

At Tuesday’s meeting of the cabinet, members heard that so far 50 out of 70 care homes have signed up to a long-term contract.

As a result of the changes, the lowest weekly rate payable under the new fee structure is £494.01, up from £456.86 under the existing 2016-19 contract, while the highest available will be £728.94, up from £690.55.