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Care at home providers have received an extra 14% towards their fees from Cheshire East Council this year to cover spiralling costs, writes Belinda Ryan.

Cheshire East had already agreed to increase the amount it pays providers by 6% earlier this year.

But some domiciliary care providers had warned they would not be able to take on new work from the council because the rates being paid didn’t cover the actual costs.

On Monday, the council’s adults and health committee was told a decision had been taken by officers to increase domiciliary care fees by a further 8% and that was being paid from the Better Care Fund.

Helen Charlesworth-May, director of adults, health, and integration, told the committee: “The domiciliary care providers have actually received, as a result of that, a total increase of 14% which is a very, very significant sum and way in excess of anything we’ve ever paid as an inflationary increase in the past.

“It is as a result of work we have done looking at their costs and is reflective of the additional costs we were seeing in the market and reflective of the difficulty that we have experienced since this time last year actually, in retaining domiciliary care providers in market.”

She added: “The additional sum came about as a result of a conversation with our colleagues in the NHS.

“That money, that extra eight per cent, is not recurrent at the moment, although there is money in the Better Care Fund to pay for it on a recurring basis.

“However, our NHS colleagues recognised that there is a business case to be made for them to invest in domiciliary care because it is much, much more cost effective than keeping people in hospital beds and, therefore, we are working with them as to how they can invest in this in the medium term rather than it being all about the local authority.”

She stressed that had not yet been finalised “but those are conversations that have been had at the moment”.

Cllr Janet Clowes (Wybunbury, Con) said: “If we can finalise those, congratulations, well done.

“I totally agree with you that we need to have this local authority/NHS conversation about who pays for what and why it is in their interests to contribute.”

Macclesfield councillor Laura Jeuda (Lab) asked what mechanism was in place to ensure the care providers pass the extra money on to the care workers.

Mrs Charlesworth-May said: “We haven’t got formalised arrangements in place at the moment.

“What we have said is that we will want a minimum of 70% of the additional sum that we’ve been paid to be paid directly to their employees.

“However, what I would say, is that they have contractual responsibilities to deliver a certain number of hours.

“They can only deliver those contractual hours if they have a certain number of staff and we are starting to see an increase in the workforce in order to provide the hours.”

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