Walsall Council hits back at critics as care pay row deepens
Walsall Council has hit back at critics of its decision to pay home carers by the minute, insisting the move is in the "best interests of residents".
The authority has faced a huge backlash from care providers over the change to per-minute billing, which has led to some taking on less work in the borough.
National body the UK Homecare Association (UKHCA) has also blasted the council over the move and claims it is "inconsistent with the statutory duty to develop a stable independent and voluntary sector provider market, as required by the Care Act 2014".
But, in the latest development in the escalating row, Walsall Council responded to the barrage of criticism by saying it wasn't fair for care providers to be paid for a full hour or half hour if they are not with the patient for the whole period.
But providers say that fails to take into account travel time and costs and time that might be lost signing in and out on the system.
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The authority has also been condemned for its rate of pay to providers, which at £14.33 per hour is thought to be the lowest in the West Midlands.
The boss of one care company said the rate would force him to "seriously consider how much longer we want to provide care to Walsall Council".
Council bosses have triggered a one-year extension clause to its contract with providers amid the row. The Express & Star has been told several companies were ready to walk away before being tied in for another year.
A council spokesman said: "Our primary concern always has been and always will be, to protect the best interests of our residents who use adult social care services.
"To that end, we recently implemented conditions within existing, and legally binding, contracts with care providers, whereby our residents will only be charged for the care that they actually receive.
"For example, if people receive fifty minutes of care, they shouldn’t be charged for one hour of care. It simply isn’t right or fair and as the contract with those providers is held by the council, it falls to the council to ensure that the contractual levers are used to safeguard those individuals from overpaying for care that they haven’t received."
In response to the statement, UKHCA spokesman Colin Angel said: "It talks about fairness, but completely avoids reference to the exceptionally low rate they pay for care: £14.33 per hour. That fee must cover wages, on-costs and running the service."