Cut-price council fees threaten care home standards

Vulnerable older people potentially at risk

The fees paid by local councils to care home providers no longer cover the costs of meeting basic standards of care set by the official regulator in England, according to a new report published by Bupa today.

In the report,A Fair Deal, analysis shows care home fees paid by councils have fallen by 3.9% in real terms over the last two years, hitting providers at the same time that care homes have been facing large increases in their main costs - utilities, people, and food - and compounding the long-standing problem of chronic under-funding in the sector.

The report, based on research by Laing & Buisson, also shows that fees will need to rise between 5% and 8% per year - an increase of up to £41 per person per week each year - to support care home providers in meeting standards and maintaining a sustainable sector. It estimates that an extra £1.7billion is needed in total over the next three years to fill the funding gap.

"Efficiencies have already been made in every area of care and still, meeting basic standards within current council fee levels is extremely challenging. We want to invest in our care homes and our people, and find new ways to raise standards so we can all access the level of care we would expect in old age. But five-star service can't be provided at zero-star prices. Councils pay for more than half of residential care home places so thousands of elderly people are currently being looked after by providers who are trying to make the best of a bad situation. It's just not tenable in the long term. We need the government to ensure English councils reverse the trend for falling fees now, and increase and ring-fence funds to avoid any extra money being diverted to other uses."

Managing Director of Bupa Care Services, Mark Ellerby said:

"Older people have contributed to this country through their taxes, their hard work and their sacrifice. Budgets are tight but we need to give older people's care the priority it deserves. That starts with providing a fair level of funding to providers to allow elderly people to be well looked-after when they need it most."

Baroness Greengross, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia and chief executive of ILC-UK said:

Some 94% of Bupa's care home residents have a medical reason for admission and more than three-quarters have some form of neurodegenerative disease.  Care at home is, therefore, not an option for the overwhelming majority.

The Commission on Funding of Care and Support, led by Andrew Dilnot, which published its report in July 2011 examined ways to assist people who fund their own care costs. It recommended that the government should place a cap on the amount that individuals have to finance themselves, with government stepping in to meet care costs above that level.

While this was welcome for these who pay for their own care, it did not help the majority of people in residential care with no assets who rely on state support to fund their care. 


Notes to Editors

Notes to editors

  • The report 'A Fair Deal - ensuring local authority fee levels reflect the real costs of caring for vulnerable older people' is available to read here
  • 'A Fair Deal'estimates that compared to spending in 2011/12 the extra money needed to support providers  in meeting the CQC Essential Standards and making a fair return is:
    • £286 million in 2012/13.
    • £572 million in 2013/14.  (£286 million increase on 2012/13).
    • £866 million in 2014/15.  (£294 million increase on 2013/14).

This adds up to an extra £1.7billion in total over the three years.

  • Research for 'A Fair Deal'was carried out for Bupa by independent analysts Laing & Buisson. It was based on Laing & Buisson / Joseph Rowntree Foundation 'Fair Price for Care'which provide a well-established and robust model for calculating reasonable care home fees.
  • Bupa's report Who Cares? published earlier this year, looked at the long-terms effect of under-funding of adult social care. It predicted that care home closures could mean that over the next decade, up to 100,000 frail older people could be left isolated at home - or end up being admitted to hospital. Even if just a quarter were admitted to hospitals it would still cause serious problems for the NHS.
  • The CQC Essential Standards expect care homes to meet 16 key outcomes within five outcome groups covering:  Involvement and information; Personalised care, treatment and support; Safeguarding and safety; Suitability of staffing; Quality and management. More details:

Contact Us

For more information, please call:

Amy Gooden or Kevin Mochrie, Bupa Press Office on 020 7656 2454

About Us

Bupa Care Services

  • Bupa Care Services has more than 300 nursing and residential homes in the UK and cares for almost 18,500 people.
  • Our care homes are open to everyone - with over 70% of UK residents receiving some form of state funding.
  • Bupa is a leader in dementia care. Bupa's unique 'Person First,  Dementia Second' training has been specially developed by Bradford Dementia Group at the University of Bradford. Alzheimer Society trained Dementia Champions are available in Bupa's UK specialist dementia care homes.
  • More than 35% of Bupa's beds in the UK are registered for specialist dementia care.
  • Bupa Care Services employs over 27,000 people in the UK.
  • Bupa also owns care homes in Spain,Australia,and New Zealand.
  • For more information,visit

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is to help people lead longer, healthier, happier lives. 

A leading international healthcare group, we offer personal and company health insurance, run care homes for older people and hospitals, and provide workplace health services, health assessments and chronic disease management services, including health coaching, and home healthcare. 

With no shareholders, we invest our profits to provide more and better healthcare.  We are committed to making quality, patient-centred, affordable healthcare more accessible in the areas of wellness, chronic disease management and ageing.

Employing nearly 52,000 people, Bupa has operations around the world, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, New Zealand and the USA, as well as Hong Kong, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, India, China and across Latin America. 

For more information, visit

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