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Nursery managers are working to join forces with residential and nursing home owners to end the ‘national disgrace’ of underfunding against the young and old.
Nursery manager Jo Morris, the spokeswoman for the campaign group Champagne Nurseries Lemonade Funding (CNLF) which campaigns against nursery underfunding, said: “Care homes are facing the same issues as early years with state (under)funded places. “The Government is underfunding the care of our most vulnerable, the elderly and the very young.
“CNLF will be approaching some care home operators to see if we can organise a joint approach to get some resolution to this national disgrace”.
Jo Morris, who runs Playsteps Day Nursery in Swindon, made her comments in reference to the Care Home Markets study, recently published by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA report stated: “The current model of service provision cannot be sustained without additional public funding; the parts of the industry that supply primarily local authority(LA)-funded residents are unlikely to be sustainable at the current rates LAs pay. Significant reforms are needed to enable the sector to grow to meet the expected substantial increase in care needs.”
The UK care homes sector is worth around £15.9 billion a year. With around 410,000 residents, 5,500 different providers operate 11,300 care homes. The CMA estimate the average cost for a self-funder in 2016 was £846 per week (nearly £44,000 per year), while local authorities on average paid £621 per week.
With LA-funded residents paying one price a week and self-funded residents paying more, nursery campaigners are interested in the ‘subsidising’ of council places in the care sector.
CNLF was established by two nursery owners in 2016 with the aim of changing legislation around the Government's 30 hours a week ‘free’ childcare, in an effort to allow the early years sector to remain sustainable, profitable and re-invest in their settings.
Heather House, who runs a care home and nursery, said: “I run a care home for older people and a nursery (next door to each other).
“Care in general in people’s own homes as well as nursing, residential and dementia care homes has been underfunded for years. I’ve definitely seen a correlation between the two”.
Four million children and 1.9 million pensioners in poverty
Jo Morris’ comments come as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported almost 400,000 more UK children and 300,000 more pensioners are living in poverty last year, when compared to four years before (2012/13).
Some 4 million children and 1.9 million pensioners are in poverty according to the Foundation's report UK Poverty 2017. Poverty rates have increased by 30 per cent for children last year and to 16 per cent for pensioners. Overall 14 million people live in poverty in the UK – over a fifth of the population.
The charity says ending the benefits freeze is the biggest change the Government could do to help the 4 million children and 1.9m pensioners now living in poverty. Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “These worrying figures suggest that we are at a turning point in our fight against poverty.
“Action to tackle child and pensioner poverty has provided millions of families with better living standards and financial security.
“However record employment is not leading to lower poverty, changes to benefits and tax credits are reducing incomes and crippling costs are squeezing budgets to breaking point. The Budget offered little to ease the strain and put low-income households’ finances on a firmer footing.
“As we prepare to leave the EU, we have to make sure that our country and our economy works for everyone and doesn’t leave even more people behind.”