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Citizens Advice responds to CMA care home investigation update

14 June 2017

Citizens Advice has welcomed the initial findings from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation into the care homes market and called for stronger consumer protections to be considered where existing rules are not providing the right cover.

The CMA has found that people are struggling to make decisions about care and complaints procedures in the market are not functioning well. It has also opened a consumer protection case to investigate its concerns that some care homes may be breaking consumer law.

Citizens Advice called for the CMA to investigate the care home market after its research found people were getting shock bills, having as little as a week’s notice about fees going up, and paying deposits that they were offered no protection for.

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said:

“Older people and their families are suffering unnecessary distress and financial pressure due to gaps in consumer protection in the care home market.

“Our research shows that people are exposed to problems such as shock fee hikes and hidden charges.  Those who complain about problems with a care home too often find the process is complex, slow and ultimately dissatisfying.

“We also found people are struggling to make decisions about care homes - they have little time to consider their options and often do not get the right information and support from providers and authorities.

“It’s good that the CMA has identified the need for improvements in how complaints are handled in the care home market and that people need better information and support when making decisions.

“The CMA is right to look at consumer protections and should seek to strengthen these where existing rules are not providing the right cover, including the notice period for fee increases and protections for people’s deposits.”

Previous research from Citizens Advice found:

  • 1 in 10 care homes give only a week’s notice to bill-payers that their fees are going to rise

  • 1 in 5 people with family in a care home have been hit by a shock bill

  • Over a third put down a deposit despite there being no deposit protection scheme

  • Almost half of people who make a complaint about social care are extremely or quite dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint, and nearly a fifth give up altogether.

  • People are having to make decisions about moving a loved one into a care home in a short amount of time - for 55% the process took a month but for 8% it took just a week

 

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.