Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

‘Delicate negotiations’ taking place to resolve Torfaen care fees row /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

“Delicate negotiations” are ongoing to resolve a care fees row – but a council has warned it could look to use out-of-county homes in the future. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Care home owners in Torfaen are in dispute with the borough council over the fees its pays for residents to be cared for in nursing homes, with the council having offered a 7.5 per cent increase in fees this year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

However care bosses have said that isn’t enough to cover their costs and have said they will have to increase fees by £62.90 a week, though they have told residents whose care is “fully funded” by the county council they will not have to personally meet the increase. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr David Daniels, who is responsible for care on Torfaen’s Labour cabinet, was asked for an update on the dispute at June’s full council meeting. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Cwmbran Pontnewydd member said “delicate negotiations” are ongoing between council officers and care providers to understand their stance but he said: “Our position remains an additional £63 a week remains unaffordable”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said that would cost the council around an extra £900,000 this year which, he said, the council would have to cut services to meet and would  hamper its efforts to pay more for domiciliary care delivered in people’s own homes. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He also said the increase would impact the council budget in future years. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The councillor said Torfaen pays the highest rate in Wales and said he was angered the providers were seeking an increase. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“If they were the lowest paid, or in the middle, I would totally understand their position, but the fact is they are right at the top in terms of pay for all of Wales,”  he said. “That can’t be understated.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Care home owners have previously said the 7.5 per cent increase, which means the council pays a weekly fee per resident of £1,022.10, doesn’t cover their full costs, from heating to food, or for pay rises for all members of staff, though the council maintains these factors are taken into account. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Daniels said officers are supporting more than 150 residents affected by the dispute and said: “We would never seek to move anyone unless a review indicated their needs could no longer be met in that category of care.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But he said unless the dispute is resolved the council may no longer use the homes in future due to the number locally that are disputing the Torfaen fee. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “It’s highly likely that unless an agreement is reached we would need to utilise care homes in neighbouring local authorities.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He added: “I would urge the providers to accept our fees which keep them as some of the best paid providers in the country and ensures in the future residents have the choice of being placed in one of their care homes going forward.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Llanfrechfa and Ponthir member Karl Gauden, who asked for the update and outside the council is a trade union negotiator, said he would “limit” his comments, adding “you don’t want someone with their size 11s charging in (during negotiations)”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But the Labour councillor said the council was about “looking after our communities” and it had previously made a “choice” to put care into the private sector and said: “As you reap, shall you sow.  I’m bringing a bit of socialism out, and this is the wrong route. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“There is an existential crisis in the care industry because care is meant to care it’s not meant to turn a profit or pay a dividend. Yes it’s got to wipe its face, but when we’re being held to ransom by private care operators who are the best paid in Wales, I find that extremly distressing. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Good luck with the negotiations, but it’s not my last interjection on this particular topic.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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