COUNCIL chiefs in Oldham have agreed to invest an extra £2.5 million so carers can be paid the living wage.

The town hall has agreed to a “significant increase” in care home fees of 8.4 per cent, which will support providers with the rise of the national living wage and other cost pressures.

This will see weekly bills rise to £450 a week, up by £35.

A meeting of the cabinet was told that Oldham previously had the “‘lowest rates” for residential care homes in Greater Manchester.

Mark Warren, managing director for community health and adults social care, said: “One of the things that we’ve been concerned about in particular is residential care home quality, and our quality ratings.

“And while things have really improved in the last 18 months – we no longer have any rated as inadequate – we do have 11 that are rated as ‘requires improvement’, and whilst we’re not actually saying there is a direct consequence of the lower rate, we do feel it was a contributing factor.”

The level of the above-inflation rise reflected how low the base rate was, he said, and puts them in a “much better position”.

More than half of the cost will be funded directly from the taxpayer, as the local authority added a two pc precept onto its council tax to pay for adult social care.

This will raise an estimated £1.69m, but the entirety of the extra care bill is estimated at £2.54m.

Cllr Zahid Chauhan, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “So, historically we’ve been on quite a low rate compared to other Greater Manchester local authorities and this is a proposal to try and bring them more in line with GM and also make sure services are safely run because historically we always struggle in the Oldham area.

“But we are also hoping that as part of this deal we will be able to get some extra benefit, we’re also looking at things like whether we can include minimum activity in the care plans.”

Mr Warren told the committee that care homes with a good or excellent Care Quality Commission ratings would also be entitled to a premium of either £45 or £60.

“So this links to a wider strategy we have working with the care homes to try and make sure that by 2019 we’ve got more than 75 pc of the care homes rated as good,” he said.

“This allows them to retain staff and invest in an improved way.”

There are around 6,5000 people employed in adult social care across a range of areas in Oldham, and more than 600,000 hours of home care is provided every year.

Under the new plan, the cost of home carers will increase by 63p an hour, and “sleep ins” will rise from £70 to £80 a night.