Record toll of care homes going bust due to rise in energy costs

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Those unable to afford to pay back debts increased 59 per cent in the past year, from 56 to 85, says the Insolvency Service.

The crisis comes despite demand, with ­hospitals clogged with so-called “delayed discharge” patients – those who are medically fit but with nowhere to go because of a lack of space in care homes.

Rebecca Dacre, of audit, tax, and advisory firm Mazars, said: “The margins which homes operate have always been relatively thin. Now rising costs are pushing an increasing number into insolvency.

“A lot have taken on significant levels of debt on the properties they own, all of which has become much more expensive to service as interest rates have risen. Many providers have been unable to cope with surging energy and food prices, combined with increased staffing costs, in a sector where costs cannot easily be cut much further.”

The sector has been hit by an additional £2billion bill due to energy costs. And with interest rate hikes and an exodus of care workers, has created a perfect storm.

Vacancies have surged 52 per cent in the past year, as record numbers quit for better-paid jobs elsewhere.

Meanwhile, fees at some of Britain’s 15,000 registered homes can top £1,500 a week, while hundreds are still refusing to allow unrestricted access for visiting, despite no current Covid restrictions.

Rules, announced by Care Minister Helen Whately in the Daily Express last week, have given homes autonomy over when masks should be worn and outbreak measures deployed, with decisions made on individual risk assessments.

Earlier this month Labour peer Lord Hunt described providers who still ban loved ones as “unscrupulous and shameful practices [that] should be recognised for what they are: institutional abuse”.

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