Time to rein in “Wild West” aged care operators
Vulture private equity firms prioritise profit over care.
A BBC investigation has exposed sharp practices among Britain’s largest aged care providers leading to calls for accountability – even from a former Conservative health minister.
The BBC exposé was based on a financial analysis by Australian campaigner Jason Ward – from the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR) – who has done similar work in Australia for the ANMF and NSWNMA.
Jason used forensic accounting techniques to show that three of Britain’s biggest care home groups owned by private equity firms, with intricate corporate structures based in the Cayman Islands, were saddled with massive amounts of debt.
He found that a significant amount of the revenue that came out of the pockets of the vulnerable aged or from subsidies from cash-strapped local authorities ended up in this tax haven, or in outsized dividends, or were used to pay off this debt rather than being spent on care.
Jason said it is a “a common private equity tactic” to move “money out of the operating companies and to the ultimate investors in a way that maximises their profit”. Former health minister Jeremy Hunt described the sector to the BBC as “the Wild West” and “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.