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Suffolk County Council financial package supporting care homes

A monthly package of more than £3 million is keeping Suffolk care providers afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, it has emerged.

Suffolk County Council’s adult and community care service revealed it had constructed ‘four pillars’ of financial support, which was being funded from the £34 million coronavirus response grant supplied to the authority from central government.

Those four packages are:

£3 million support for care homes (34945862)
£3 million support for care homes (34945862)

• A minimum income guarantee to ensure care providers are not losing out

• A minimum price for residential and nursing care

• A cashflow advance or loan to providers which may be struggling with cashflow

• A 10% uplift to help care providers tackle increasing costs in items such as food, PPE or agency staff

According to the council, which developed the package alongside the Suffolk Association for Independent Care Providers (SAICP), the 10% provider support alone costs £1.8million per month, while the minimum income guarantee for residential care providers was £1m in April. That number does not include support spend for non-residential care providers, which is to be collated in early June.

The package aims to ensure care providers are still in business beyond the lockdown.

Meanwhile, Suffolk is to receive £9m from the government’s £600m pot for care home support.

Gavin Bultitude, assistant director for strategic planning, said: “If they didn’t get any funding at all it is quite likely that business or voluntary organisations would fold.

“The package is very much about practical support.”

The steps have been welcomed by the care providers – particularly smaller organisations which may not have resources to bid for government support and day care providers whose business may have dried up entirely.

David Finch, chairman of the SAICP, said: “It’s been massively crucial.

“If that hadn’t been in place we may have seen some staff redundancies.

“It gives you that extra confidence when you are spending extra money on PPE and things like that, it makes you feel that much better.”

It is not yet clear how long the financial support packages will be needed, but payments have been agreed for May and Mr Finch said he was highlighting the need for that to continue through at least June.

Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care, said: “It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to support our local care market financially while they weather this storm.

“The county council has put in place guaranteed income measures to ensure that care providers can continue to operate despite changes in their usual levels of service and potential staff absence. Also, by providing a 10% uplift in payments we hope to be able to support them in covering the additional costs they are facing due to responding to Coronavirus.

“We also welcome the announcement from Government that a further £600m is being made available for care homes to help with infection control. Suffolk is to receive £9m from that fund and most of this will go directly to care homes to ensure they can take the steps they need to reduce the risk of infection, such as securing the PPE they need and reducing the movement of staff between homes.”