Confidence in Data
There remain specific concerns in the data received and the completion of the exercise that led Hounslow to conclude that the median rate submitted cannot be wholly relied upon and must be used in the context of the known issues and further supported by additional benchmarking and other statistical data.
Providers were clear that they were not always sure where to allocate costs and that some figures were rounded up or estimates over the year. Providers were also not always clear as to what the exercise would achieve, and this heavily influenced how they completed the template.
Whilst all providers were asked to provide data as of April 2022, some providers admitted to using guestimates or more aspirational costings as opposed to actual current rates.
Service user / Call data
Whilst the tool provided many of the data fields needed it did not provide enough information on the levels of need which may have explained some of the variations in costings. Councils may have benefits from understanding the different charge rates for local authority and self-funded packages.
Validation of the data was useful to reduce the errors. However, concerns remain:
- Some providers allocated profits line by line as opposed to allocating them in one line which is harder to compare and distorts line data and subsequent analysis.
- Additional income either as grants or self-funder rates could not be isolated in the data and were prevalent at the time of the exercise. Providers were asked in the tool not to include costs covered by Covid grants during the 2021/22 financial year. However, it may be that providers included personal protective equipment costs (PPE) when PPE was made available for free through the national portal.
- There was no specific guidance in the cost of care exercise regarding staffing. Hounslow passported the two DHSC Adult Social Care Workforce Grants to care providers during the Covid pandemic. Hounslow also passported the infection control and prevention fund grants. Providers grant returns demonstrated that workforce support was a significant part of the expenditure including support for staff who were absent from work due to Covid restrictions, and we were unable to disaggregate the impact of this.
- Provider data was not evidenced and therefore a margin of error is included in the data used to complete this exercise.
- For the reason above it has not be possible to determine if submissions were reflective of aspirational costs or actual costs incurred.
- Costs can vary significantly from provider to provider, impacted by factors that include the size of the organisation, variations in staff pay rates and use of agency staff. There is also significant variation in Return on Operations costs submitted by home care providers
- Due diligence has been carried out on the data provided, however, there was insufficient time to comprehensively review cost data with providers and there is no practical way of scrutinising central overheads.
- The median calculation method produced results that do not reliably reflect market costs.
- DHSC guidance did not provider clear criteria for moderation (e.g. adjusting for ROO).
- DHSC guidance recommends querying outliers with providers, however there is no clear line between a cost being inefficient or an outlier.
- Rising inflation, living, and running costs mean that the data submitted through this exercise at a point in time may no longer be accurate.
- This exercise does not identify the potential cost arising from unpaid carers no longer providing support, following the benefit cap implementation resulting in more care being channelled through the local authority. There may be other costs arising from the unintended impact that are yet to be identified or quantified.
- The cost is derived from a sample of the care market that chose to provide data, so risks not being fully representative of the cost of care. Main contractors who are registered outside of the borough were not included within the scope and yet have a significant impact on the correct cost of care. Therefore, the costs will need to be refined in the future.