An Anglesey care home owner has discovered that his local council give their own homes nearly £190 a week more per resident than they pay providers like him for exactly the same service.
The shock revelation came to light after Glyn Williams, who owns the Gwyddfor Care Home in Bodedern, near Holyhead, submitted a Freedom of Information request to Anglesey Council.
The response from the council confirmed what he had suspected all along.
Council care homes on the island are paid £760 a week per resident while homes like Gwyddfor only get £576.
After he’s paid his staff, it leaves him with just £71 a week per resident to cover all the home’s other costs.
The funding toolkit used by the council allows £4.26 a day to provide four meals, drinks and household provisions for each resident.
The admission comes on the heels of news that Anglesey Council’s care home fees are among the lowest in Wales.
They were named and shamed by industry champions Care Forum Wales who compiled a “league table of shame”.
It showed that the difference between highest and lowest weekly fee per person is more than £12,000 a year – equivalent to nearly £500,000 in a care home with 40 residents over a 12 month period.
Five of the six councils in North Wales are in the bottom 10 – the exception being Conwy who are hovering just above the “relegation zone”.
According to Care Forum Wales, the financially fragile state of the sector had forced a string of care homes across Wales to close even before the extra pressures caused by the coronavirus crisis which had compounded the problems.
Mr Williams said: “Anglesey Council use a different toolkit to work out the costs in their own homes.
“When we’ve queried this with them in the past they’ve said that their staff are paid more and their terms and conditions are better.
“That means they are setting the pay lower for people in the independent sector. They allow around £570 for staff in their own homes per resident per week
“In the funding toolkit they use for the independent providers they only allow £355 per resident, per week for staff costs.
“My own payroll per resident per week because I’ve invested in the real living wage foundation is £505.
“They give us £4.26 to provide four meals a day for each resident so I have tweeted the Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, asking him for some menu suggestions. Even a bag of chips would cost more than £4.26 now.
“They pay themselves nearly £190 a week more per resident which is just ludicrous. “Our staff are essentially being treated like second class citizens. It’s an absolute scandal.
“This is a humiliating insult to social care staff who have been heroic during this pandemic. It’s a classic example of double standard.
“Money seems to never get to the people who really need it at the sharp end of the sector, providing care for the most vulnerable people in Wales.
“I think we’re the first care home provider in Wales that has received National Living Wage Foundation accreditation.
“We’ve invested in paying our staff a real living wage which starts off at £9.30 -everybody who walks through the door, even an 18 year old trainee.
“That has come as an enormous challenge to us because our breakeven point means that we need to maintain occupancy at up to 90 to 95 per cent.
“If we go a couple of beds down, we’d have to start laying off staff.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “Unfortunately, Anglesey Council are far from unique – incredibly, this is a pattern that’s being repeated across Wales.
“Not only is this totally unacceptable and unfair, this is sheer hypocrisy on the part of local authorities who have had responsibility for funding the social care sector in Wales for 25 years.
“Their dreadful mismanagement of the system has led to a situation where we have 22 variations on a theme in terms of fees, a ridiculous post code lottery with huge variations in what different county councils pay.
“The chronic underfunding of the sector means they have deliberately and knowingly set the pay rates of our wonderful social care workers at a low level, which means that providers have little or no room for manoeuvre.
“You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different results. That’s the definition of insanity.
“This dysfunctional system needs to be abolished and we need a national strategic plan to sort this out as a matter of urgency.
“It cannot be right that councils pay themselves so much more for providing the same service as independent providers and then on top of that to subject care homes to a postcode lottery of different fee levels in all the 22 counties in Wales.
“As the First Minister rightly pointed out, the social care sector was in a fragile state before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
“If we were struggling before, we’re now in a battle for the survival of the sector – a battle to save our care homes which provide much-needed care for vulnerable people in communities in every corner of Wales.”