The care minister has told HSJ he is confident there are ‘adequate plans’ in place for the possibility of a major provider of social care collapsing.

  • Alistair Burt: Government has up to date plans in place in case major providers collapse
  • Minister suggests announcements relevant to social care are due in spending review

Alistair Burt, whose responsibilities include social care, acknowledged the current serious concerns around the potential impact of a large provider collapsing because of financial problems.

He said: “People are well aware of the pressures in the care home market. It’s in the news at the moment as people talk about these pressures and the government is well aware of that.”

Concerns have grown after news that Four Seasons, the country’s biggest care home provider, is struggling under the weight of its debt obligations. Other commercial operators have claimed the sector is facing unsustainable financial pressure, particularly from reductions in local authority fees and workforce costs. Many home care providers are also financially unstable.

Trade body Care England has predicted “business failures” unless a planned increase in the minimum wage is fully funded.  

Mr Burt pointed to relevant decisions to be made in the 25 November spending review about funding social care and the living wage change.

“This is all connected with the spending round so I can’t [go into detail], but of course if any provider was to fail, large or small, you’ve got the immediate issues of those they are looking after,” he said in an exclusive interview with HSJ.

“Clearly we keep very much up to date a process of making sure that there are adequate plans in place should there be anyone not able to continue.”

Mr Burt also pointed out there were many small social care providers. “We obviously hope that [no provider has to cease operating],” he said. “Of course it would be disappointing if anyone went out, but the market moves regularly. The important thing for me is firstly the quality of care in homes is good.” 

Exclusive: 'More control' will drive GPs to new contract, says minister