Suffolk

Suffolk care homes set to be sold off

Suffolk's council care homes are set to be privatised or sold to charities, after a consultation exercise backed selling the homes "as going concerns".

Suffolk County Council's cabinet is being recommended to appoint business agents to talk to firms and groups interested in running the 16 homes.

The council believes the move could help save £4m a year.

A large scale public consultation found that 53% of people who responded backed selling the homes.

Colin Noble, the Conservative-controlled council's portfolio holder for adult and community services, said the authority favoured the idea of a charity or community group taking over the running of the homes.

But he added that private companies may also have a role to play.

"Of paramount importance is the service to our residents and staff," he said.

Over the last few months, 28 organisations and firms express an interest in running the homes according to the council.

Mr Noble said among the options considered was closing all the homes, but this has been rejected.

But he said no decisions had been made over which homes may or may not close.

"We're going to go out and talk to the market," he said. "Until we have done that I haven't got that certainty of exactly how we are going to move this forward.

"What has become clear from our work on the council's future budgets is that we are, regrettably and because of government cuts, no longer in a position where we can afford to continue running and improving residential care homes ourselves.

"We therefore need to look at new ways of providing care for older people - whilst protecting them from uncertainty and unnecessary upheaval."

The plans go to the council's cabinet on 24 May. Final decisions on the care homes' futures are expected before February 2012 at the latest.

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