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Proposals for extra funding and investment for Lancashire's adult social care providers

Proposals for a much-needed rise in funding and additional investment for adult social care providers are to be considered by Lancashire County Council's cabinet this week.

This means 900 providers of vital services like residential care, supported living, day care and home care, among many others, could benefit from vital help.

As part of the measures to be considered, £1.8m of additional investment from grant funding could be approved for this financial year to support Lancashire's adult social care sector in the light of the current pressures.

If given the green light, the extra money will be given to contracted providers whose service users are Lancashire residents supported by the county council.

Also due to be considered are proposals to increase the amounts given to dedicated providers to help them cope with challenges such as recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, inflation, energy costs and the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on things like staff recruitment and retention.

The council currently commissions services supporting around 38,000 carers and adults in both community and residential settings, costing around £550 million a year, paying fees to them to ensure they can meet costs such as the national living wage, pension costs, energy bills and non-staffing related costs.

Now Lancashire County Council's cabinet members are to consider raising these amounts, as outlined in the council's fees report for adult and social care, at their meeting this Thursday (February 2).

The suggested increases follow detailed consultation between the council's adult and social care commissioners and care providers and take into account an extensive research exercise called 'Fair cost of care' into local market pricing and demands on the sector, carried out last year with government funding.

If approved, the amounts received by residential care homes would rise by at least 16% a year, with some even securing 20%, while home care providers could also see their fees rise by 12.62%.

There could also be other increases such as for carers and Shared Lives carers, and the proposed measure could also include an uplift in direct payment budgets for people who manage their own social care packages.

County Councillor Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult social care, said the proposed fee increase, if approved, would be implemented from April this year.

He said:  "Our providers do an incredible job, providing services and supporting some 38,000 adults who need social care support in what continue to be very challenging circumstances.

"There are a number of costs which these businesses face which rise every year in line with inflation, which include paying staff wages, pension costs and other bills.

"The proposed uplift could also help them cope with challenges such as energy bills, post Covid-19 recovery, staff retention and recruitment and other additional pressures on the care sector as it experiences the cost-of-living crisis and recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There has been consultation and discussions around the pressures they are facing.

"It's vital that we help support and cover the costs for carers and shared lives carers, who don't work for organisations, but face increased costs due to inflationary pressures."

Commenting on the £1.8m investment, which would be drawn from the remaining 'fair cost of care funding' the council received from the government for the current financial year and from the recently announced 'Discharge Fund,' Cllr Gooch added: "The £1.8million investment, if approved, would enable us to be proactive in supporting the market in advance of the uplifts to be paid from April.

"It goes without saying that it's essential to ensure people continue to get the social care support they need in what is currently a very challenging time for the care sector."

For further information on this, see agenda item 11 on the council's webpage here or at Council - Agenda for Cabinet on Thursday, 2nd February, 2023, 2.00 pm (