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Staffordshire signs four-year ‘streamlined’ home care deal

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Staffordshire CC has secured a four-year home care deal with around 60 providers at a standardised rate, greatly reducing the number of operators in the county.

The framework agreement, which started on 1 October, will deliver three million hours of home care for more than 4,000 adults.

Around 100 providers were contracted by the council under previous arrangements, with different providers charging different rates and often visiting the same area.

The council said the new streamlined contracts will co-ordinate home care and allow providers to plan their visits better.

Four years is the maximum for a framework agreement under EU regulations. The previous arrangement covered two years.

A council spokeswoman said that the standard rate for care would deliver better value for taxpayers.

“What we had was a capacity issue where because you had so many providers you could have two or three coming to one road on the same day,” she said. “It was a case of getting one provider to cover one area, which makes the most of the carers available.

“Some providers were charging £11 an hour and some £19 an hour. Following a review we now pay providers a flat fee, with a little bit more in rural areas to cover transport costs.”

Alan White (Con), deputy leader and cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, said the new contracts would bring more stability to the care provider market.

He said: “This year in Staffordshire we will spend a record £300m on care and much of this is spent in helping the frail or the elderly live as independently as possible in their home, whether that is giving a helping hand when returning home after a hospital stay or longer-term support with personal care.

“The expiry of the current contracts gave us the opportunity to have a look at what was working well and what we could be done better, particularly around increasing capacity across the whole region so that people receive the care they need at a fair price for providers and for taxpayers.”

In March, an investigation by BBC Panorama found 95 councils had home care contracts handed back by private providers. Providers said local authorities were not paying enough for them to deliver basic services. The research also found that 69 home care companies had closed within three months and one in four providers were at risk of insolvency.

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