|ACS fee rates for 2017/18 – update April 2017
SUFOLK COUNY COUNCIL FEES AND NEW CONTRACT
Further to my earlier communication (see below) regarding fees for 2017/18 – I feel I need to update you with the current state of play with the forthcoming year.
SAICP has strongly rejected the fee increases for this year.
We managed to get the pot up by 3 million but the division of that pot is not what we were prepared to sign up to. It is still dismally below the actual cost of care and will not
sustain the market.
Some providers have now received the new Contract and this is completely new, 113 pages long and SAICP has had no input into this.
The conditions are very onerous and will duplicate a lot of the information we have to provide to CQC so will be time consuming and I wonder if there will be anyone at ACS who will be checking it anyway.
This year’s discussions have been extremely challenging and we feel that ACS still does not grasp the seriousness of the situation. They are also telling us that the Suffolk portion of the 2 billion announced in the budget might not be coming to front line services, as was stipulated.
Although SAICP cannot dictate to you as individual private businesses what to do, can I suggest that you do not sign and return your contracts and schedules until we have had a chance to speak to ACS again about these changes. We have sent them emails and phoned but up to now, no one is prepared to speak to us. If you feel it is relevant to your business, then please speak to your district and county councillors and M.P.’s
I repeat, we have had no consultation on the contract changes and we have rejected the fee increases.
SAICP will be working to get a better outcome on this but there seem to be many
brick walls in the way.
If you have already received your contract or, when you do you have specific queries or wish to make a comment for the Association to raise on your behalf when we finally get to meet and discuss this with them please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original report on fee negotiations March 2017
First the good news headline! Following on from long and difficult negotiations with ACS, SAICP has secured an increase to the overall funding allocation, or as we have come to call it ‘the pot’, being made available for commissioning local authority funded care services in Suffolk for the coming year. ·
At the start of our negotiations ACS had only allocated £9.3 million for commissioning care services.
However, the Association Steering Group has battled long and extremely hard resulting in ‘a pot’ which ACS has now increased to £12.3 million.
Unfortunately, this is where the good news stops.
I have attached a copy of the final rates proposed by ACS and their accompanying notes and rationale as to why they have elected to allocate the funding rates contained therein for your consideration. The Association, has indicated that the proposals tabled by ACS are, overall, unacceptable, therefore it will now be for each provider organisation to decide whether they are prepared to continue to accept local authority funded clients at the rates which ACS are prepared to pay.
We have forewarned ACS that underfunding at this level will continue to put the sustainability of the market at risk with providers either handing back clients or only being prepared to take privately funding clients. It also creates a real possibility that some providers will close which will accelerate destabilisation in the sector and a corresponding reduction in the volume of service provision available in the county for the elderly and vulnerable residents of Suffolk.
Unfortunately all to no avail. ACS will be writing to all providers individually to advise the new rates and give a more detailed explanation of the rates being applied from their perspective. During our fee negotiations ACS were at pains to confirm their aims overall were
- To ensure all providers received a floor level inflationary increase
- To target services where the current rates were, as ACS considered, insufficient. This applied to i) lower residential and nursing rates which will increase from £404 to £430 and £485 per week and ii) Support to Live at Home contracted domiciliary providers who have been awarded a 10% increase.
Whilst we unequivocally support the need for all domiciliary rates in Suffolk to be increased the Association was very concerned that the 10% was not to be applied to spot contractors as well as Support to Live at Home – giving serious concern to the ethical and commercial appropriateness of their decision.
We would all accept that Support to Live at Home still has huge issues and the home care service in Suffolk only continues to this day due to the goodwill of the spot providers bailing out the Council. Again, we anticipate and have clearly stated that this will be a bridge too far for many spot providers and again the market faces further destabilisation with consequent disastrous consequences.
Now to the ‘new money’ announced in the budget last week. ACS has been allocated £14 million for 17/18 with £12 million and £9 million in subsequent years. However, ACS was at great pains to highlight there were lots of questions surrounding this ‘windfall’ and was anticipating many conditions would be attached as to how and where the money can be distributed. Despite the clear political message was that this was to go to front line services with a view to expediting delayed transfers of care and to increase capacity in the market. Also, ACS claimed it may be that some of this year’s £14 million allocation goes towards replacing sums in the system which comprise the approved budget for 17/18 i.e. the Adult Social care grant of £3 million.
ACS also predicted dire financial constraints in the two years following 17/18 and hinted at the possibility that some of this money may be forward planned and allocated for the future rather than have to turn around and offer a flat line increase next or the year after. SAICP rejected the above and felt unable to agree to propositions due to uncertainty in both the political and economic landscape. It would be too risk to agree a two-year deal with ACS if they came back to ask for this to be considered based on an if, when and maybe hypothesis and we were firm that this money is and should be allocated to front line services now. At best, we have secured an intent from ACS that they will sit down with the key stakeholders to discuss distribution of any additional funding i.e. ACS, health (whom they feel will inevitably have a say and responsibility for signing off funding allocations) and ourselves i.e. the SAICP membership.
They would not however guarantee, and were at pains to stress providers should not automatically assume there would be a further rise in rates or commissioning levels would increase. Nor would ACS accept that if providers did chose to accept the rates on the table that this would be an interim situation pending clarification on the additional monies being made available.
We found that too unacceptable and have taken steps to ensure that all the MPs in Suffolk are alerted to the possibility of the political headline failing to become a reality in Suffolk – the best we can hope for at the present is to wait and see and watch very carefully. The new monies become available on 1st April for 2017/18 but it is not anticipated that there will be clear guidance as to how and when and why the monies should or will be allocated for some time. We do have an undertaking that all information relating to the new money will be made available to us and planned spend and conditions and decision making will be transparent to all stakeholders throughout the process.
We will be watching this very closely I can assure you. In conclusion – the increases are better than last year for most but not all. But not where we should be. The sticking plaster methodology of negotiation must become a thing of the past. The 360 group are working towards a more sustainable care sector in Suffolk – that does not compensate for underfunding now and I will be in contact again as soon as there is any more information available relating to the ‘new money’. If you have any queries or would like to comment on any of the above please email me via email@example.com.
If you are unable to download a copy of the attached rate file please email our administrator Moira (email address above) who will send a copy direct to you. Thank you.