Independent care sector ‘subsidising’ councils, figures reveal

Robert Kilgour has highlighted the gap between what care costs and what councils pay for it. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Robert Kilgour has highlighted the gap between what care costs and what councils pay for it. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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The head of one of Scotland’s leading private care home companies says he has obtained proof the independent care sector in Scotland is subsidising local authorities in the care of elderly people.

Robert Kilgour, chairman of Renaissance Care which founded the second biggest company in the sector and operates 12 homes across Scotland, submitted Freedom of Information requests to Scotland’s 32 local authorities for a detailed breakdown of care costs.

Mr Kilgour says this revealed vast disparities between the £594 weekly payment local authorities allocate the independent sector for people they refer and the weekly cost allocated to their own homes.

Councils such as Shetland Council estimated weekly care costs per resident in their own care homes at £1,338 to £1,789 a week, Perth and Kinross Council pays from £920 to £1,825, and South Lanarkshire Council responded with a weekly figure of between £919 to £1,572.

He is now calling for the Accounts Commission, the public sector watchdog, to conduct an investigation.

Mr Kilgour said: “The responses show there is no level playing field when it comes to funding elderly care in Scotland. How can local councils expect independent care homes to operate on far lower funding than their own homes?

“I want to highlight the double standards in operation. Local councils are not being realistic and honest in recognising the true costs of care.”

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, representing the largest group of independent care providers, said: “For some time now, Scottish Care has been working with colleagues in COSLA and the Integrated Joint Boards to determine the real cost of caring for the 33,000 individuals who will spend tonight in a care home.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While a significant amount of work and investment has gone into supporting older people and people with disabilities to live well in their own homes for longer, we recognise the role of the care home is still important. Local authorities have a duty to ensure care is available and, in some areas, have to operate their own care homes.

“Clearly value for money is a crucial part of delivering any public service and we would expect councils to be open and transparent about their spending. In 2018/19, councils will receive funding through the local government finance settlement of £10.7 billion. This will provide a real terms boost in both revenue and capital funding for public services.”