CONWY County Borough Council (CCBC) plans to increase care home fees by up to 20 per cent after warnings that they are at risk of financial meltdown and closure.

The proposed rises in Conwy for 2024-25 follow a campaign by Care Forum Wales (CFW) for the introduction of fair fees which reflect the “actual cost” of providing care for vulnerable people in privately run homes, including those with dementia.

Meanwhile, Denbighshire County Council (DCC) is budgeting on much smaller increases of about eight per cent on fees which, CFW says, will be immediately wiped out by inflation and the cost of living crisis.


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The differing rates mean that DCC could be paying £9,224 a year less per person than Conwy towards the cost of giving exactly the same level of nursing care to residents.

In a 40-bed care home that equates to a disparity of nearly £370,000 a year which could, CFW says, mean the difference between staying open and being forced to close for cash-strapped care homes.

The warning comes after at least four homes in North Wales - Trewythen Hall in Gresford, Bay Court in Kinmel Bay, Gwastad Hall in Cefn y Bedd and Morfa Newydd in Greenfield - were forced to shut their doors and find new places for their residents in the last 18 months.

This represented a combined loss of 163 beds.

The proposed fee increases in Conwy will go before the council’s Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee for ratification next Monday (January 22).

According to CFW, they came about because the council commissioned leading healthcare economists Laing & Buisson to analyse the true costs of care providers for the current year.

In doing so, they broke away from the North Wales Regional Fees Group, set up by the region’s six county councils and Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board.

CCBC also acted against the backdrop of Conwy getting just a two per cent increase in overall funding from the Welsh Government, which was the lowest in Wales.

Mario Kreft MBE, chair of CFW, is calling for the other local authorities in North Wales to follow Conwy’s example.

He said: “Finally, we have a North Wales local authority that is using an internationally recognised tool to ensure that and those living and working in care homes can receive the best care, while at the same time, ensuring that the public purse is protected through fair fees that reflect something much closer to the real cost of providing care.

“Sadly, this injustice is being perpetuated in counties like Denbighshire who have been flouting the guidance and betraying elderly, vulnerable people with dementia for many years.

“How can the council’s chief executive, Graham Boase, and the leader, Cllr Jason McLellan, justify paying £9,224 less a year towards the cost of dementia care for a resident in Rhyl compared to Kinmel Bay?

“In fact, how do they sleep at night with that on their conscience?

“Politics is about making choices and CCBC have shown it’s possible to take a much more sensible, long term view to protect the social care network from collapse.

“Clearly, the councillors in Conwy really get it and really understand how important these vital services are in our communities.

“What DCC is doing makes no sense at all and the public have an absolute right to be told clearly why local authorities are choosing to disadvantage vulnerable and older people in this way.

“It is simply an outrage. The families of those people, who will often be expected to make up the difference,  need to ask why and quite frankly, it is a bridge too far.

“This is undoubtedly a stealth tax on families and quite frankly, the people making these decisions in those authorities should be utterly ashamed of themselves in the way they are betraying vulnerable people including those with profound dementia and their families.”

A DCC spokesperson said: “We are currently in the process of setting a very difficult and challenging council-wide budget for 2024-25.

"This includes funding our numerous primary and secondary schools, road maintenance, waste/recycling collections and providing emergency temporary accommodation for individuals who find themselves without a home.

"In setting a budget we must balance a number of competing demands and pressures for our limited resources.

"We have huge financial pressures in those services who help support our elderly residents, and we are looking to invest further into these services as well as supporting other vulnerable residents. 

"We want to retain a good relationship with the owners of our local residential care homes here in Denbighshire and are currently consulting with them on our proposed additional fees, for elderly residents to be housed in a residential care home for next year. We look forward to receiving their responses.

"We understand the other five local authorities in North Wales have similar pressures and are also still in the process of setting their budgets for next year.

"Therefore, it is important to wait until the overall budgeting process is over, before comparing the amount of fees paid by each authority.

"CFW represent the residential care homes businesses across Wales, including a number of successful residential care homes owned by Mr Mario Kreft, who is chair of CFW.

"It is obviously in the best interests of Mr Kreft and CFW to maximise the weekly fees paid by local authorities to their members to accommodate elderly residents in their care homes, as operators are running these residential care homes as profitable businesses. 

"The council, on the other hand, has obligations to the local taxpayers. Increasing the weekly fees paid to those businesses that operate residential care homes means higher council tax payments to local residents.

"As a responsible council, we try to find the right balance between services provided, the money we receive from government and the local council taxpayers."

CCBC have also been approached for comment.