SHROPSHIRE Council spends more than £33 million a year on nursing and residential beds.

And now the authority’s cabinet has voted to carry out a public consultation to review and update the rates it pays for the beds to ensure it is getting best value for money.

It said there is a variance between rates being paid to various suppliers and now wants to investigate further.

Councillor Lee Chapman said adult social care spending continues to rise each year.

He said: “Nursing beds is a big cost for us at £33 million a year.

“We need to make sure we get this absolutely correct and are seeking a consultation into how we go about publishing the rates we pay on an annual basis.”

The cabinet agreed to the consultation taking place.

A report on the issue, by council officer Andy Begley, said: “This report makes recommendations for a public consultation to review and update the rates the council currently publishes and pays for nursing and residential beds.

“Cabinet’s approval is sought to consult on revising the currently published rates for such beds.

“This consultation is requested as part of the review of arrangements for the commissioning of residential and nursing beds. This is the first stage of the review.

“The overall expenditure for Adult Social Care in Shropshire is continuing to increase. There is an ongoing need to balance additional pressures due to growing demand, delivery of statutory services and demographic changes with sustainability and development of the care provider market.

“This growth in expenditure is recognised within the council financial strategy for 2018/19 – 22/23.

“Savings have been identified to be delivered by this review as part of the council’s 2019 budget proposals which are subject to a separate consultation.

“Expenditure for residential and nursing provision in Shropshire is the single biggest area for Shropshire Council Adult Social Care and spends just over £50 million per year.

“Expenditure for individual beds is categorised by ‘Primary Support Reason’ and this expenditure includes all categories including Adult Learning Disabilities (ALD) and Mental Health (MH).

“This consultation proposal does not include the rates for people categorised with learning disabilities and mental health needs.

“These rates will be explored separately at a later stage in the review.

“The expenditure for beds for 17-18 was £33.3m (nursing care £17.7m, residential care £15.6m).

“Shropshire Council currently reviews and publishes rates on an annual basis.

“Although the council has increased rates annually, with a two per cent increase in 17-18 and a 2.5 per cent increase for 18-19, analysis of rates for 17-18 indicates that there is a wide variance in rates being paid.

“It is recognised however that the level of the rates the council currently offers have not been fundamentally reviewed for some years and consequently do not reflect current market pressures.

“We want to ensure future rates published and paid accurately reflect the costs of delivery of care, are transparent in the market place and deemed to be equitable by providers.”

The cabinet approved the consultation.