FEES for care homes in the borough will rise by up to 2.4 percent, costing the council half a million pounds more every year – but councillors say it is a "fair price" to pay.

Residential home fees will increase by 2.2 pc, raising the cost of standard care to £471 per week with the cost of specialist care rising to £607 per week.

Nursing home fees will go up by 2.4 pc, taking the total weekly cost for standard care to £465 with specialist nursing care set to cost £614 a week.

The council contribute towards care fees depending on residents’ financial situation, which means the increased fees will cost the local authority.

But the additional annual investment of approximately £569,000 will be covered by the budget for adult social care which was approved in March.

Deputy leader Keith Cunliffe, who is the lead member for adult social care, told the cabinet on Thursday (April 15) that the council has worked closely with the companies which provide care for around 2,500 residents in the borough.

He said: “During Covid, they’ve been badly affected.

“This fair price is really recognising the stress that the care sector has been under over the last 12 months.”

The Labour councillor said the local care sector within Wigan borough is ‘relatively strong’, despite describing the national market for social care as ‘fairly fragile’.

He said 79 per cent of care homes in the borough are rated good or outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, with the only council-owned home among them.

No care homes in Wigan borough have been rated inadequate by the social care watchdog, but 21 pc require improvement according to the regulator.

However, Cllr Cunliffe said the care sector is currently facing pressures.

He said: “An increasing problem for them is, nationally, there’s a shortage of nursing staff.

“Some of the nursing homes are having real difficulties recruiting and retaining enough staff.

“So we are looking at what we can do to help and try to address that for them.

“But what is also significant is the increase in the number of people with complex behaviours and dementia that is creating a demand on the system.”

The council currently invests over £42m a year on residential and nursing care for adults, representing over 40 pc of its total expenditure on long-term care.

Of this investment, £25m relates to care provided by homes operating within Wigan at three defined categories of need, with fee levels agreed annually.

The 2.2 per cent increase reflects the rise in the national living wage which has been identified by the council as a ‘key cost pressure’ for homes within the borough.

Private care providers have also raised the issue of increased insurance premiums as a result of Covid-19, with an estimated increase of 19 pc.

People with savings of more than £23,250 pay the full cost of care fees.

A financial assessment determines how much anyone else would pay.