Leading care home group Maria Mallaband has dropped its ‘after death’ fees following CMA action.
The move comes as part of an ongoing consumer law investigation by the CMA into fees charged by a number of care home providers, and its year-long study of the residential care home market where it made clear its concerns that it is unfair to continue to charge fees for an extended period after a resident has died (see BREAKING NEWS: CMA finds £1bn care funding shortfall).
Michael Grenfell, Executive Director for Enforcement at the CMA, said: “We are pleased that the Maria Mallaband Care Group (MMCG) has been responsive to our concerns about fees charged after death, and has taken clear and positive steps to make changes ahead of our public consultation on such fees. We expect other care homes to make any necessary changes in line with our final views when published.”
In response to intervention by the CMA, MMCG has agreed to amend its contract terms so that fees will only be charged up to the date of death.
A Maria Mallaband spokesperson said: “MMCG welcomes the CMA investigations into the care sector and as you will note from their comments we have participated openly and constructively taking voluntary action as we deemed appropriate. The clause upon which they have focussed was, in any event, frequently not applied by us.
“The CMA are looking into many issues in our sector and we believe their findings will help towards a much needed common understanding of fairness, whether that be in relation to specific terms of business or the chronic underfunding by local authorities of much needed care services.”
As part of its investigation, the CMA found that charging fees after death was widespread across the sector and that practices vary. In order to ensure that care homes take a consistent and lawful approach, the CMA will be publishing compliance advice for the sector as a whole.
It has launched a public consultation seeking views on its draft advice, so it can reach a final view on whether it’s fair to charge fees after death and, if so, for how long.