CARE home fees across Barnsley will rise by 5.6 per cent - and top almost £600 per week - after cabinet bosses approved the plan.

Barnsley currently has 46 residential and nursing homes, and the council funds 783 placements across those homes and 97 placements out of borough at a net cost of £20.451m.

It’s envisaged the increase fees will secure a ‘better way of life’ for residents at homes hit by the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic and the knock-on impact of transient staff.

Residential care costs - approved on Wednesday - will raise standard care to £548.90 per week, with dementia care rising to £592.28.

The report said: “Overall the increase in fees will help secure a more sustainable and diverse older people’s residential and nursing care homes market focusing on outcomes, wellbeing, quality and choice, where service users will be safer and enjoy a better quality of life.

“The continued linking of care home fees to quality expectations across all care homes in Barnsley will help to maintain the current provision giving the people of the borough greater choice and thereby avoiding the necessity of having to look outside the town for a good quality care home.

“Section five of the Care Act establishes a duty on local authorities to ensure a sustainable market of care in their areas.

“This covers all care sectors and providers of care, including community-based support which covers a range of provision such as home care, supported living and day care.

“It also includes a growing sector of individual service users using personal budgets to employ personal assistants.

“The residential care market has been hit badly by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Overall occupancy in care homes has dropped by an average of 12 per cent leaving providers with an uncertain future due to their financial sustainability.

“The current hourly rates vary between £16.24 and £19.80 to reflect the different provision types, with higher rates applicable to complex care provision.”

Services, however, performed well during the last financial year, with 74.7 per cent of people satisfied with the provision, and 97.1 per cent feeling ‘safe and secure’ in the settings.

Ben Harvey-Wade, branch secretary of Barnsley Unison which represents care workers in the town added: “The care companies that provide services on behalf of Barnsley Council struggle to recruit and retain staff because the care system is underfunded by central government.

“This is part of a national care crisis and against this backdrop of underfunding the council should be commended for investing more money into such a vital service.”