Hundreds of home care providers pulling out of state-funded care

Vital home care services for the elderly and vulnerable are heading for a crisis, an investigation by ITV's Tonight programme has revealed.

Every day, an army of more than 500,000 home care workers in the UK provide services for more than 800,000 of the most vulnerable people in society.

But an investigation by Tonight reveals how little some local authorities are paying for home care.

Only 38% of all 492 providers surveyed said that they could be completely certain they would be trading at all next year.

Former Minister for Social Care, Norman Lamb, said the programme's findings show the system is "dysfunctional".

Of the 308 providers who responded to the survey and who trade with local councils:

Further, 50% of those home care providers who had the opportunity to bid for council contracts decided not to do so, because the prices being offered were too low to deliver sufficient care.

Britain’s ageing population is living longer than ever before and thousands of people rely on home care packages to help them with their daily needs.

In the programme Penny Marshall investigates if how home care is being funded could have catastrophic consequences for the people who use the service, their family, the home care workforce and ultimately the NHS.

A 'dysfunctional' home care system can mean elderly patients cause bed blocking in hospitals. Credit: Tonight

The programme also finds evidence of how a failure to deliver care puts more strain on the NHS.

One hospital consultant told Tonight that she oversaw a fully-staffed, 31-bed ward where all beds contained elderly patients ready for discharge but were 'bed-blocking' because they were stuck in the care system.

Tonight scrutinised one local authority’s tendering process: Hull City Council offered to pay providers maximum rates of £12.80 for an hour of home care and just £18.50 for two carers working for an hour.

One provider, Raina Summerson, CEO of Agincare, said she didn’t feel that she could offer quality care at the rates Hull City Council stated in their invitation to tender so did not bid for a contract.

Hull City Council declined to be interviewed for the programme, but said that the tender process was on-going and that a large number of providers had applied.

They say they clarified to providers that the prices stated were not maximum amounts, but were "indicative" and that the Council has not "placed a limit, or a cap, on the amount at which those interested could tender".

Penny Marshall: Time after time I was meeting old people who felt let down, vulnerable and lonely