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From April 2022, Shropshire Council will be increasing its payments to companies who provide social care by six percent, and is inviting care providers to join it in lobbying to government for fairer funding in line with the area’s ageing population.

The six percent payment increase equates to more than £7 million in total over the next year (2022/23). This is to help offset pressures social care providers face, including the rise in employer’s national insurance to help pay for the UK Government’s Health and Social Care Levy, and the increase in national living wage by 59p an hour, according to the local authority.

Both come into effect in April 2022, pushing up providers’ operating costs, while no money from the levy is expected to come to councils until at least 2025.

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The council knows that social care providers play a crucial role in supporting adult social care, which is a key area for Shropshire due to its ageing population, who will typically need more care and support, it underlines.

The council recognises the challenges of delivering care, and care at home, and currently has the second highest rates of pay to the sector across the West Midlands. After this increase, Shropshire will be paying providers £20.80 per hour of care.

Simon Jones, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: “Supporting the care market in Shropshire is vitally important. The care sector does a fantastic job in very difficult and testing circumstances, particularly over the last two years.

“We recognise that, even after this increase, things will be tough for providers; but we have very limited scope for action.

“This is another example of how the lack of fair funding for Shropshire hurts services, and does not recognise the extra costs we face as a sparsely populated rural county with a growing older population.

“I will be asking care providers to join us in continuing to lobby the Government on Fair Funding, and to help get the funding we need to run social care in a large sparsely populated rural county like Shropshire with a growing ageing population who will need more care.”

Shropshire Council is next year budgeting to spend more than three-quarters of its budget on social care. In the county, 25 percent of people are aged 65 or over, compared with the national average of 19 percent, the local authority underlines.

The county’s rural nature and sparse population mean it also costs more to provide care services in the county.

On top of the increase in payments to social providers, the council will continue to support the care sector in a range of other ways, including further developing the use of assistive technology to alleviate pressure on carers and increasing independence at home for residents, providing additional grant funding, operating an emergency PPE portal for providers, and driving social care recruitment with dedicated campaigns.

Last month, the local authority launched a directory for residents to find out more about assistive technology products and services. The guide offers advice and support to help people make the right choice to help retain their independence and stay well.

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