Nottinghamshire County Council has launched the new provider sustainability fund, running for three months, to support the external care market as costs increase.
It says some providers have already started to fail because of the rises, and more are at risk.
Providers will be able to apply to the authority to support carers with funding for fuel costs when travelling to provide home care, as well as any rising energy costs over and above what they paid prior to the recent price surges.
The fund also covers ‘exceptional staffing costs’ associated with sickness cover, including when providers must manage Covid-related absence and staff are required to isolate with full pay.
Council documents approved last week state funding is capped at £1,500 per provider per month, with care companies able to claim retrospectively for their spending in May.
It will run for three months, including May’s payments, or until a £500,000 pot allocated for the fund is spent.
Kashif Ahmed, service director for integrated strategic commissioning and service improvement at the council, said the funding will help to ‘stabilise’ the market amidst the cost-of-living crisis.
In a report, he said: “The risks and fragility within the care market compounded by the rising cost of living mean that the care market could see a further escalation of provider failures.
“To mitigate this risk, the proposal is to launch and implement a provider sustainability fund.
“This will help to stabilise the care market in the short to medium term and potentially the fund could be extended as and when national monies are made available by central Government.”
He adds: “Funding will be allocated on a first-come basis and providers will need to evidence their spend for funding to be agreed retrospectively.
“This is a one-off proposal for funding to stabilise the market to assist in the reduction of the risk of further provider failure.”
He added the funding comes after separate, national funds to support the care market during the pandemic came to an end.
It is hoped the support will ease ‘considerable pressures’ within the care market that Mr Ahmed says are also impacting the council’s ability to meet its duty as a care provider.
To apply for the fund, providers will need to complete an online application and they must also provide receipts or evidence of spend to access the funding.
The support fund comes as petrol prices hit record highs last week amid warnings of further rises in the coming days.
Kwasi Kwarteng MP (Con), the Business Secretary, said in a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that he is launching an ‘urgent’ review to address hiking prices.
He says there is ‘widespread concern’ and public frustration about the pace of price rises and that a cut in fuel duty announced earlier this year has not been passed on to the consumer.
He has asked for the CMA to deliver an initial report by July 7, as well as a longer-term study into increased transparency for consumers over petrol price rises.