Dr Ros Altmann
Over-50s group Saga says the Public Accounts Committee report into care home finances misses a key factor – the root of the problem is local authority spending budgets.
The comments follow the Public Accounts Committee’s recommendation that care home finances should be more closely monitored, and comes hot on the heels of the shock record fine imposed on HSBC for mis-selling financial products used by the elderly to pay for later life care.
“Anything that keeps care in the spotlight, and cost issues at the top of the agenda is welcome – but at the heart of all care providers’ concerns, and the crisis as a whole, is that local authorities are not paying enough to cover a care home's cost of providing the care needed. So long as councils keep cutting their payments, care cannot be put on a secure financial footing - and private payers will keep shouldering an unfair share of cost as well,” said Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga.
“No business can survive if its customers pay less than the cost of providing its service. The report is not looking in all the right places – and misses the key factor of local authority budget cuts - when calling for an examination of care home operator's finances.”
The warning comes two days before Saga hosts a care crisis seminar in the House of Commons (December 8, 2011) at which care funding commissioner Andrew Dilnot will address politicians, policymakers, care home operators and senior social care professionals with an update on his recommendations to government.
“The shots across the bows of government with regard to a catastrophic crisis in the care sector are becoming deafening and relentless,” said Dr Altmann.
“HSBC’s fine for mis-selling financial products to the elderly to pay for care was completely out of the blue, and adds to the instability of the care ship: but what other surprises will surface, how much more can the care ship take before it capsizes?
“The Public Accounts Committee’s recommendation that there should be closer monitoring of care homes finances is another shot, albeit in thin disguise, but the message is clear: care is in crisis, and those on the frontline are battling to hold their ground for the wellbeing of both those who need care, and those who provide care.
“We are running out of effective words to describe the magnitude of the impending crisis – but that does not lessen the threat.”