Hertfordshire County Council recently held a Care Providers Forum for Learning Disability Services. At the forum, various questions were raised by providers relating mainly to the recent fee uplift and the requirement of providers.

The deadline for all Care Providers that provide services funded by HCC is to return their fee uplift acceptance letter is 30th July. Please see the link below to the full feedback from the LD Provider Forum which should assist you in completing the information and returning your letter. If you have any queries regarding this process or haven’t returned your letter to Hertfordshire County Council, please contact the named officer on your organisations’ letter. For any further information, please contact us on admin@hcpa.info

Comments and Questions raised by Providers at the LD Providers Forum

50p added to front-line members of staff salary does not equate to 2%. There will be a considerable shortfall. 

As part of the budget setting process for 2016/17, Hertfordshire County Councillors were made aware of the new national living wage considerations and that this would have an impact on the care sector and a survey was undertaken by an independent consultant on general workforce and recruitment issues facing the sector. This survey found that for older people’s services (care homes and homecare), the average care wage was £8.05ph. Technically, the increase of the NMW to £7.20ph from 1 April 2016 did therefore not affect our sector’s average salary – but members were made aware that by allowing to the gap between the NWM and the average care wage, there was a risk that we would lose care workers to other employment sectors. They therefore agreed to a larger increase for OP care homes and homecare. Commissioners are aware that care wages in the learning and/or physical disabilities care provider sector were on average higher than £8.05ph so a smaller increase was offered to provide for an inflationary pay increase plus other cost pressures. In summary, rather than providing all care workers with a 50p increase, the intention was to maintain a differential between the national minimum wage and the average care wage in Hertfordshire in 2016/17.

Herts County Council agreed  a 2% uplift for LD residential services. As part of our  commitment to supporting social care in Herts and to maximise all available income, HCC is  implementing the new ‘Social Care Precept’ of 2% on top of a Council Tax increase of 1.99 per cent. HCC are aware of the workforce difficulties faced by the care sector in Herts which are predominantly being felt in the older people’s domiciliary care market. HCC have taken the opportunity that the 2% precept has provided to apply above inflationary uplifts where it will have the greatest impact on service delivery.

What about other job roles?

Our calculations were based on providing inflation on the proportion of care provider budgets for front-line staffing but not including management. Other services including day services or personal assistants for direct payments were also considered to earn more than £8.05ph on average – but letters to providers confirming any inflation uplift included the offer of open-book accounting where providers could demonstrate poor financial sustainability. A revision to fees would then be considered by HCC commissioners.

Will shift the recruitment problem.

The uplift has been agreed by Members to help the care sector with recruitment and retention issues, when competing with businesses in the retail sector, for example. It is intended to be part of our overall Herts Good Care Campaign in partnership with HCPA and is part of a range of resources HCC is committing to support  the recruitment and retention of care staff and to make the care sector a more attractive sector as a career choice and attract new entrants.

If older person’s services get higher rate it will sap staff from LD and move the problem

The uplift is to contribute to an  increase of 50p in the hourly rate for staff. However, the starting rate may be different across these sectors and between organisations within the same sector. We are aware that the  LD sector does not experience the same type of recruitment challenges as OP services and have therefore tried to address this imbalance.

Day Services does not appear to be included, why only supported living?

The uplift is targeting those services where recruitment and retention is at its most challenging ,  therefore having a negative impact on the provision of care services to vulnerable people. Day services are not experiencing the same level of recruitment challenges as other service areas.

Letters are asking Providers to “sign off” against two clauses in relation to further increases to meet National Living Wage.

This increase has been agreed to help support recruitment and retention in the social care sector and to value staff working in care.  Decisions on future use of the 2% social care precept to support the NLW will be decided through the Council’s budget setting process for 2017/18 and any further increases on NLW will be made at Full County council. HCC will be monitoring the impact of this increase across commissioned services throughout 2016/17 and the outcomes will help inform decision making for any further increase to support NLW in addition to the standard inflationary uplift for 2017/18. As with previous years all fee negotiations  will be carried out through the HCPA Board which is made up of representatives from across the care sector and representing LD and OP services.

To meet £9 per hour by 2020 is likely to mean an increase of £130K on salary bill. 

See above.

Does not take inflation into consideration.

Inflationary pressures were considered, as part of the fee negotiation process with HCPA, and were used to determine the annual uplift. This is the standard process HCC adopt to agree inflationary uplifts and is through negotiation with HCPA Board.

Unfunded salary increases may cause Providers to be in breach of contract and may lead to Provider failure.

It is up to individual businesses as to how the uplift is distributed within their organisation.  Some providers have gone for a performance based approach, others for a blanket increase across the board.  However, all uplifts have been within the financial envelope.  Providers should complete the pro-forma outlining their plans, for further discussion with commissioners should they wish.

Concerns that uplift is for “Care Practitioners” who have completed Care Certificate, what about other roles / staff groups?

See above. Providers may wish to distribute the uplift within their organisation in a way that best meets their business model.

Request for legal advice in relation to the uplift to be shared with Providers.

HCC obtained legal advice in relation to the application of the 2% social care precept and inflationary uplift and how we can link this to specific requirements around ensuring funding is passed on to front line care workers. As this advice is covered by legal privilege we are unable to share with external providers

Page 2 of the letter states “This requires you to detail how your organisation will implement / has implemented the additional 5% funding.” As we have given increases year on year during the period where Hertfordshire have given no uplift (And we will provide evidence of this), and as such are already meeting the £7.20 minimum we assume from that statement that these increases offset the 50p increase required in your letter? Please could this be confirmed as a correct understanding?

If providers can demonstrate these wage increases were given in October 2015 or after, they are still eligible for the 2% increase, but this does not need to go to staff, this will be to support the increase already given. If the staff wage increases were given prior to October 2015 then the increase will need to go to staff.

Can you confirm that the statement relating to full and final claim against the National Living Wage as stated in b)ii) of the Proforma, covers 2016/17 only and not any future year on year increases above the £7.20 rate?

See above.

Can you clarify the actual uplift for Residential Care as point 3 on page 1 of the letter states 2%, however paragraph 3 of page 2 of the letter goes onto state that “This requires you to detail how your organisation will implement / has implemented the additional 5% funding”. This has made it slightly unclear as to what percentage will be received.

This was a misprint; the increases are as set out earlier in the letter. For LD services the uplift is 2%.