COUNCILS are paying less than the industry recommended minimum for personal home care, new figures reveal.

Freedom of Information Act requests reveal both Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire County Council come under the recommended hourly rate.

The UK Homecare Association, which represents providers, said £15.19 an hour was needed to cover minimum wage pay, training and travel.

However, Blackburn with Darwen pays £11.04, while Lancashire pays £11.98.

Home care services are paid for by councils to help the elderly and younger disabled adults in their own homes if they qualify through a means-tested assessment.

Colin Angel, of the UK Homecare Association, said fees being paid were too low and added: “Many councils exploit their dominant purchasing power in local markets to reduce prices. We’re strongly recommending people use the UKHCA model to work through with providers alongside looking at all local conditions that would then determine what is a reasonable price for care.”

Director of commissioning and adults for Blackburn with Darwen Council, Steve Tingle said: “The sum the council pays to preferred providers for social care per hour is based on consultation with providers.

“A broad range of factors are included in these discussions to ensure care quality and business sustainability. Our responsibility continues to be the wellbeing and safeguarding of vulnerable residents and, as such, we do review all cases according to changing needs.”

Lancashire County Council said its average rate was £11.98, but the lowest paid was £8.98.

County Councillor Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “The £8.98 hourly rate is paid in fewer than a dozen cases out of more than 5,000 people. This is an anomaly dating back several years and we are correcting it to the proper rate.

“We are currently working with homecare providers to set up new contracts across the county by September.

“The new contracts will help to set clearer and more consistent standards, reducing travelling times and allowing providers to move towards paying a living wage.”