Brent Council could spend an extra £9 million on homecare services by 2023/24 as it looks to introduce London Living Wage across its contracts.

A council report outlined its latest recommissioning plans, which seeks to improve workers’ pay and reduce zero hours contracts.

Andrew Davies, head of commissioning, contracting and market management for adult social care at Brent Council, said this can only be a “good thing” and explained how there is a wider ambition to promote London Living Wage where possible.

He added the council wants to give care workers a “guaranteed number of hours” but that it would not stand in the way of those who request zero-hours contracts.

The report suggested that the move to London Living Wage would not be immediate – it outlined a tiered model up to 2023/24 to ease the financial burden.

If it was introduced at the start of the new contracts, the council would have to fork out an extra £9.3 million.

The report noted that paying London Living Wage at the start of the second year – at an additional cost of £5.3 million – could be a suitable compromise.

It explained that “this level of drawdown from reserves is most achievable whilst also balancing the preference to implement London Living Wage as soon as possible”.

Brent Council also intends to move to a new ‘patch-based’ homecare approach, with fewer care providers working across 13 regions in-line with the borough’s primary care hubs.

Mr Davies said this will “allow [the council] to get the best providers” and improve the consistency of workers.

He outlined the plans to use 13-25 providers, who will deliver around 80 per cent of services, while the remainder are carried out by those on the council’s ‘approved provider list’.

He added he is “optimistic” that the council will still be able to deliver “specialist and cultural-specific” services vital to a region such as Brent.

“There will always be issues and complaints about homecare – but we have delivered well for around 1,700 people and will continue to do so,” he said.

Councillors questioned whether services could be brought in-house for even greater control.

But officers pointed out that, while it would not rule out taking the reins on some services, the cost to do so overall would be significantly greater.