Manipulating care home fees – will the OFT intervene?
|PETER GROSE reviews a recent decision by the Office of Fair Trading| In August 2002 the Competition Commission Appeal Tribunal (CCAT) in Northern Ireland struck a blow for care providers throughout the UK. At the time record numbers of providers were leaving the sector due to a combination of increased regulation under the Care Standards Act, buoyant land prices for alternative use for care home sites such as flats, and perhaps most importantly of all, local authority fee rates which had long failed to meet the true cost of care. There was a widespread view held by care providers that local authorities were keeping the price of publicly purchased care artificially low. Local authorities denied this and said that they were kept short of cash by government. The Government, of course, denied this, stating that local authorities had been given plenty of cash, but had chosen to spend it on other things. The obvious solution of ring-fencing funds for care provision was resisted by both government and the social se