The Competition and Markets Authority investigation has been warmly received by several groups – most notably Citizens Advice, who had been calling for action.
The national charity 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: “A lack of protections in the care market is exposing older people and their families to poor practices.
“Our research finds people are experiencing a number of problems with the care market including short notice of cost increases and hidden charges, for things like management fees, which can run into thousands of pounds.
“People often have little choice but to pay these costs because moving the resident to another care home is simply too disruptive or distressing. In some instances relatives don’t make a complaint to the company because they worry that the resident could be treated badly.
“Given people paying care bills in many ways have fewer protections than those buying a package holiday or as an energy customer, it is good that the Competition and Markets Authority will now investigate the care home market. In particular it’s important that the investigation looks closely at whether further regulation is needed.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity said:
“The CMA’s review of care homes, which we called for in our recent report on the sector, is very good news for residents and their families. It is very hard for them to know whether they are getting value for money in care home costs and we regularly hear concerns about unfair contracts and unreasonable fee increases.
“All this paints a picture of a sector that is often failing consumers who are at their most vulnerable. While we recognise that care providers operate against a backdrop of severe funding pressures, a CMA review of the sector should identify how it can work better for the older people and families who use it.”