1. ITV Report

Somerset Care forced to reconsider contracts with County Council over money fears

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Health charities say the government could face legal challenges over cuts to social care which increasingly threaten services to vulnerable people.

One of the region's biggest care providers has admitted it could be heading for a crisis unless it can pay more to help the sick and elderly.

Somerset Care says it has had to reconsider bidding for some contracts in Somerset because the money simply isn’t there.

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The UK Homecare Association say councils must pay a minimum of £16.70 per hour for social care, which breaks down to:

  • £7.13 for the carer while in someone's home
  • £1.35 for time spent travelling
  • £1.40 for mileage
  • £2.06 to cover holiday pay, pension, national insurance and training
  • £4.06 for office costs and managers
  • 50p per hour as profit which is ploughed back into the business.
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  • You can watch the full package from our Somerset reporter David Woodland here:

Somerset County Council have increased what they spend but claim they don't have enough income to cover existing costs. They say:

More people need support for our services and we simply don't have the funding to cover the costs.

Almost inevitably it will mean that fewer older people receive adult social care services from the councils across the country - Somerset isn't unique in this - than have done historically.

We have seen a reduction nationally in the number of people being cared for by local authorities in spite of the fact the demographics are going in the other direction."

– Somerset County Council

In short the problem is people are living longer but have various medical conditions that need care and yet in real terms per person the government is cutting what it gives local authorities.

But if big providers don't take on the contracts councils are forced to make smaller piecemeal arrangements which can prove more expensive.

23% of Somerset's population was over 65 in 2014 but by 2030 42% of the population will be over 65.

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The effect on the ground for both those caring and those being cared for is significant.

Nicola Ajayi - a carer with a wealth of experience - says she will never become wealthy from her work:

It is a challenging job and the hours aren't sociable and the work isn't exactly what everyone would want to do so I believe we should be paid more."

– Nicoal Ajayi, carer

One of her patients - 25-year-old Karen Hopkins - has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which means her ligaments overstretch causing dislocations.

She needs 30 minutes help in the morning and at night to wash and dress. She says:

"I get quite angry. I always rant at the tv. I hate it when the government ignores disability and care prospects because we seem to be the first people that they cut."

– Karen Hopkins, patient