OPINION: Brexit and Four Seasons

As we begin another year, two sets of talks, which will have a major impact on the care world, are set to dominate the headlines in the coming months.

Having secured agreement in December, Brexit talks resume this month on securing a trade deal between the EU and UK. EU citizens rights and their access to the UK jobs market are a key to be addressed in any agreement.

With 90,000 EU workers currently employed in the care sector and the nursing crisis contributing to care home closures across the country, providers are understandably anxious for some clarity on the Government’s future policy regarding access to foreign workers and will be following the talks progress closely.

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Meanwhile, Four Seasons and its leading creditor H/2 Capital are scheduled to next month reach a restructuring after securing the immediate future of the care provider through a standstill agreement on the deferment of debt interest payments in December (see BREAKING NEWS: Four Seasons and H/2 Capital reach debt standstill agreement).

With 17,000 elderly residents and 343 care homes under Four Seasons, the stakes for a successful resolution of the talks could not be higher.

Having been through a good deal of bad blood and brinkmanship in the process, the two sides appear to be close to a deal whereby H/2 Capital and its fellow creditors will take over ownership from Terra Firma by a final deadline in April.

The financial problems at Four Seasons are endemic of the structural unsustainability of the care home funding model with providers exposed to the local authority (LA) market struggling to be economically viable.

Unless a fundamental solution can be found to the LA funding issue, more care home providers will go to the wall while others will abandon the market altogether.

This is the circle that needs to be squared if access to high quality social care is to remain a universal right in this country.

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