Call for re-think on cash-saving move to sell off care homes

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PLANS by the Conservative-run Notts County Council to sell 12 residential care homes, including Jubilee Court, Hucknall, have been branded as ‘ill-conceived’ by Labour group leader Coun Alan Rhodes.

He says the policy should be reconsidered in the light of the UK’s biggest private- sector provider, Southern Cross, going into financial difficulty. The company runs 19 care homes in Nottingham and the rest of the county and these are home to about 1,400 people.

But the firm recorded a shock £311 million loss in the six months up to March and is struggling to pay its £230 million annual rent bill.

In a letter to council leader Coun Kay Cutts (Con), Coun Rhodes claims the Southern Cross crisis has raised ‘serious questions’ about whether the sale of council-run homes to the private sector is the best course of action.

He says the ‘dreadful uncertainties’ around the future of Southern Cross show that the private sector cannot offer any guarantees to older people or their families that the care homes they live in will be secure in the current economic climate.

Jubilee Court, on Nabbs Lane, which cost £2.5 million, and the other county council homes were put on the open market last year and an announcement as to the new owners is expected in the autumn.

Coun Rhodes stresses that the Labour group, which opposed the sale, is willing to work with the Conservatives to come up with an alternative cross-party agreement over the future of day-care services.

In reply, Coun Mrs Cutts says the council is currently making a ‘complex financial evaluation’ of the bids it has received for the 12 homes and a report will come before councillors in the autumn.

Coun Mrs Cutts adds that the council is committed to working with providers to ensure that people get the care and supportr they deserve.”