‘Firms go private to avoid registration’

    Smaller home care providers could be avoiding regulation by
    limiting their services to private purchasers, according to the
    head of the sector’s representative body.

    United Kingdom Home Care Association chair Fiona Street said the
    costs of registration may be deterring smaller firms from
    contracting with councils, in the belief they could avoid detection
    by serving private clients alone.

    Her comments followed the publication of Laing and Buisson’s annual
    survey of the home care market.

    The social care market analyst reveals increasing polarisation
    between larger providers contracting with councils and smaller
    agencies serving private purchasers.

    “They may feel that if they are not contracting then they don’t
    need to register,” Street said.

    “I suspect that there will be very small providers for whom
    registration may be onerous.”

    Although smaller home care agencies pay a lower rate for
    registration than larger providers, health minister Stephen Ladyman
    last week announced a 20 per cent rise in charges across the
    board.

    While insisting they did everything they could to encourage people
    to stay within the law, Street admitted: “If you are looking after
    just half a dozen people or a dozen people that would seem a very
    large increase.”

    Laing and Buisson’s survey finds that private purchasers account
    for 20 per cent of the home care market, with the rest commissioned
    by the state.

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