Some of the UK’s leading care home operators have come under fire over their links to offshore firms.
While stressing there was no suggestion that the companies were avoiding tax, an investigation by the Mirror into operators run by offshore firms accused them of “squirrelling away” millions in profits while begging for public money. The investigation found that more than 1,000 care homes are owned or run via offshore companies.
Rehana Azam, national secretary of the GMB union, said: “Care companies regularly plead poverty. So to see them squirrel their cash away like this is sickening.”
Those highlighted included HC-One. Two-thirds of its 230 homes are owned by sister companies in Jersey and the Isle of Man.
The provider’s operating company, HC-One Ltd, made a £6.5m loss in 2018 but paid out an estimated £40m in rent to offshore firms.
An HC-One spokesperson said: “HC-One’s financial structure and company results are well known and regularly reported. Our group structure is in line with most others in the care sector, and little more than 10% of our company structure is based overseas.
“We are one of the most financially robust care providers in the UK and we are proud to be making exceptional progress on our mission to be the first-choice care provider in each of the communities we are honoured to serve.”
Barchester Healthcare was another leading provider highlighted by the Mirror.
While making a £1.9m profit last year, Barchester paid £100m in rent to another UK company, which is owned by common controlling shareholders.
A Barchester spokesperson said: “Barchester Healthcare pays rent at a commercial rate to our landlords, re-invests more than half of our operating profits in upgrading our facilities to constantly improve standards for residents, and pays UK tax on any remaining profits. This is why Barchester Healthcare has seen a marked improvement in our Care Quality Commission ratings in recent years and is now rated as one of the UK’s top performing care home operators.”
Further groups under the spotlight included Excelcare whose 33 care home are owned by Jersey based companies and Akari Care, which is ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands.
An Excelare spokesperson said the company was run “ethically and legally”, while Akari Care said its accounts were audited “in full compliance with company law”.
Leading care provider, Orchard Care Homes, is another with offshore links, with 35 of its 42 homes owned by sister companies in Jersey.
An Orchard Care spokesperson said: “The structure whereby properties are owned by separate entities to the companies which hold the registration to operate the homes is widespread in the industry.
“Properties held by group companies which are resident outside of the UK are fully disclosed to HMRC and we make Non-Resident Landlord Tax submissions and the related tax payments due on an annual basis.”