Gwynedd Council raises fees to help ‘sustain the market’

A lack of nursing and dementia placements has led Gwynedd Council to raise the amount it spends to care providers.

This week councillors agreed to increases of close to 25% for some provision, which has been welcomed by Care Forum Wales (CFW), describing it as ‘hugely significant’. It called for other local authorities in North Wales to follow suit.

Until now Gwynedd has worked closely with other nearby councils when calculating the fees for care and nursing homes. A council report said Gwynedd fee levels and those of the remainder of the authorities in the north were among the lowest in Wales.

‘Since the standard fees were set for 2022/23 on 8 March 2022, it has become even more apparent that nursing/dementia placements are scarce in Gwynedd,’ it said. ‘This deficit is reflected in the fees which are demanded by some of the nursing/dementia providers.

‘There is a sufficient supply of residential placements, but a lack of nursing and dementia placements. The recommendation therefore is to increase all fees but to prioritise the nursing and dementia fees for a higher increase in order to sustain the market.’

Councillors agreed to set aside an extra £1.6m to pay for the hikes in fees for the different types of social care. As a result, the weekly fee per person for residential elderly mentally infi­rm (EMI) care has risen by 19.8% to £780, while the rate for nursing EMI care has gone up 24.7% to £900.

Funding for nursing EMI is now £5,124 more a year per person than for the same level of care in a neighbouring council area. For a 40-bed care home, which is the average size in Wales, that is a difference of £204,960 a year.

The weekly fee per person for residential care has gone up 10% to £645, while the rate for nursing support has risen 17% to £800.

‘We are grateful to the councillors in Gwynedd for acknowledging their responsibilities and adopting a more realistic approach to setting fee levels to reflect the real costs of providing care,’ said Mary Wimbury, CFW chief executive. ‘This decision is hugely significant because it hopefully signals the end of the iniquitous North South divide in social care.

‘Apart from Gwynedd, all the other North Wales councils are lagging way behind in terms of fees, compared to authorities in South East Wales.

‘Anglesey, Denbighshire, Wrexham and Flintshire are all still paying rock bottom fees. The fees are so low that providers are having to refuse placements of potential residents because they don’t cover anywhere near the true costs of care. Wrexham and Conwy have promised in year reviews of their fees.’