The extraordinary story of how one care conglomerate uses opaque corporate structures and a web of financial tools to suck wealth from the care of Britain’s most vulnerable.
Adult social care in the UK is in crisis. This much we are told by those in the sector and this much we can see in the statistics. To cite but a few of these: around 1.86 million people over the age of 50 are not getting the care they need; approximately 1.5 million people perform over 50 hours unpaid care per week; and the proportion of GDP the UK spends on social care is among the lowest in the OECD, with budgets having undergone an overall reduction of over 30 per cent since 2010.
Reflecting on the severity of the situation, Ian Smith, chairman of the largest care home chain in the UK, Four Seasons Healthcare, recently declared himself to be ‘embarrassed to be British at the state of our health and social care.’ As with the NHS, a mood of impending catastrophe hangs heavy over social care.
Yet whilst attention has overwhelmingly been focused on the impact of austerity in reducing levels of state support, something murkier and altogether more complicated is going on in the shadows.
According to a groundbreaking new report by the research organisation CRESC, large care home chains – which account for around a quarter of the industry – are rife with dubious financial engineering, tax avoidance, and complex business models designed to shift risks and costs from care home owners on to staff, the state and private payers. Where Does the Money Go? Financialised Chains and the Crisis in Residential Care is a stark warning that the problems of adult social care in the UK run deeper than a lack of state funding, damaging though this is.
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Click on the link to read the report