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DH plan 'wouldn't prevent Southern Cross'

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A government plan to hand new legal duties to councils will fail to prevent a repeat of the Southern Cross care home crisis, council chiefs are set to warn.

The Department of Health has proposed a new law that would make it clear that councils were responsible for providing care to people affected by the collapse of a care provider.

It follows the 2011 Southern Cross case, when the UK’s biggest care home operator shut down after admitting it was unable to pay its rent bills.

The firm’s unexpected collapse caused chaos for the councils whose residents lived in their homes, and instability for the 31,000 residents.

But Solace is set to warn that the government’s proposed reforms, created in the wake of the crisis, take the wrong approach.

A draft consultation response, seen by LGC, said the new legal duty would “not address the problems that caused Southern Cross.”

It said: “Local authorities already recognise their duty to step-in in the event of a provider failure leading to change of ownership or closure of a service. Solace has no evidence that councils are not carrying out this important function successfully under the current system”.  

The draft response also argued that councils should be allowed to reclaim funds from the NHS and self-funding care users if they provided temporary care for individuals when a provider collapsed.

It urged the government to fund local authorities under the ‘new burdens’ doctrine if the new system caused extra cost.

The DH’s consultation on the plans closes today.

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