Care UK does not accept the Competition and Markets Authority’s views on the matter of administration fees and will be defending any legal action the CMA may choose to take against us.
We do not believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest residents have been disadvantaged or that our historic fee structures were in breach of consumer law. We have always been transparent about our application of administration fees and people have always had a wide choice between different care home providers.
We simplified our fee structure for residents funding their own care earlier this year to incorporate all one-off assessment and admission costs and adjusted our weekly fees accordingly. This approach is in line with the CMA’s final Guidance, which was published last month.
Nonetheless, we do not agree with the CMA’s claim that there are no one-off costs associated with an admission to a care home, or that covering these costs (which include initial care assessments and the installation of any specialist equipment) through an initial one-off fee was detrimental to residents in Care UK homes.
Admission fees had been applied, and continue to be applied, by many other providers and had the virtue of lowering weekly fees to reflect the one-off nature of these activities, particularly benefiting longer staying residents.
The CMA is simply wrong to suggest residents who paid a one-off admission or administration fee, covering genuine and essential activities undertaken once, before admission, should be wholly or partially refunded. Without the previous one-off fee, weekly fees would have been commensurately higher, so no loss has been suffered.
We continue to lead the sector in transparency on pricing. As far back as 2014, we started to publish indicative fee levels for individual homes, something that even now is done by very few other providers. Our admission processes ensure prospective residents are aware of key terms in our contracts, including our fee structure, very early in their discussions with us and well before they finalise their choice of care home.
Whilst we are in conversation with the CMA, wellbeing of residents remains our absolute priority and we remain focused on delivering great care. The proportion of our homes rated as Good or Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission is amongst the best in the country.