An uncertain future for some of Brentwood’s most vulnerable residents

The future of the care of some of Brentwood’s most vulnerable people is in uncertain this week after the biggest care home provider in the country announced it has a financial crisis.

Southern Cross, which runs three homes in the borough, said it would be withholding 30 per cent of its rent from landlords until September 30 – in a move it calls “restructuring”.

The company runs Brookes House, in Western Road, and The Squirrels, in Warley Road, for people with dementia, as well as Sycamore Court in Magpie Lane, Little Warley, for people with various needs.

Christopher Fisher, chairman of Southern Cross, said: “I would like to reassure you that care of our residents remains the number one priority.

“During the last several months, it has been a difficult trading environment for all care providers as commissioners such as local authorities grapple with the consequences of major budget cuts.”

He added: “Southern Cross has been particularly affected because of the type of lease arrangements which underpin our business model.”

The company posted losses of �311million for the six months to March 31. It also recorded an operating loss of �6.8m, compared with a �15m profit for the first half of last year.

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Overall occupancy fell by 3 per cent to just under 87 per cent, with local authority admissions declining by 15 per cent although there were more NHS referrals and private patients.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “Essex County Council is aware of Southern Cross financial issues, which the company is working hard to resolve.

“The council is committed to ensuring the safety of all vulnerable people in Essex and is continuing to work closely with Southern Cross to ensure continuity of care and services.”