Are care homes set to close?

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THE future of seven care homes across Wigan Borough has been thrown into jeopardy.

Beleaguered care homes operator, Southern Cross, is believed to be facing financial melt down over a long-running dispute over rents with its parent company, the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA).

On Thursday it was announced that Southern Cross slumped to losses of more than £300 million and said crucial talks with its landlords had stalled.

Southern Cross is the UK’s biggest care home provider and runs seven homes across the borough - The Chanters in Atherton, Carrington Court and Rosebridge in Hindley, Westleigh Lodge and Richmond House in Leigh, Ashton View in Ashton and Lindsay House in Parbold.

The homes currently have approximately 200 residents and 250 staff.

In March this year, Southern Cross told the Wigan Evening Post that “no-one would be made homeless.”

Its new chairman, Christopher Fisher, admitted that the business was “in a critical financial position and cannot afford to meet its future rent obligations in full.”

Mr Fisher said: “The key stakeholders will need to agree on a comprehensive package to restructure Southern Cross’s financial affairs so that a new, stable and sustainable business model can be developed.”

MP for Makerfield, Yvonne Forvargue said: “Revelations that Southern Cross is in a ‘critical financial situation’ will cast yet further questions over its long term viability creating a dreadful situation for Southern Cross residents and staff.

“I have raised this matter with Southern Cross and will be meeting with the regional director in the near future.

“Given the significant doubts that exist over its future and its position as Britain’s biggest care home provider, I have also raised this matter with Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley MP at the Department of Health.”

A General Municipal and Boilermakers’ Union (GMB) spokesman said: “How much longer must the 31,000 Southern Cross residents, their families and the 44,000 staff have the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads before government steps in?”