Labour accused of £400k care home delay

LABOUR councillors have been accused of costing council taxpayers more than £400,000 by delaying the start of the contract handing the running of care homes to a private company.
But Labour has hit back claiming Tory objections to the call-in of the contract for examination by the scrutiny committee were an attack on democracy.
The row broke out at Monday’s cabinet meeting where it was reported that calling in the decision to outsource the homes to Care UK just a month before the contract was signed had cost the council £413,000.
This was money it spent to keep the homes operating during the month-long delay.
Margaret Mead, the cabinet member for health and adult social care, said Labour knew about the proposals in June 2010, 11 months before they were referred to scrutiny.
She said: “The call-in was at the point of signing the contract and they should have been aware this was going to cause a cost.
“Sadly, this money now has to be found at a time when we are looking for significant savings.
“It could have been used to provide services for the people of Croydon.”
Purley Conservative councillor Ian Parker said: “Quite clearly this was a political call-in and taxpayers are suffering from it.”
Jane Avis, shadow cabinet member for health and adult social care, said when the idea of Care UK buying out the homes first emerged there were no details available. She said: “We did not call the decision into scrutiny until we had the full facts, which is only right.”
She accused the Tories of “putting a price on the democratic process”.
Outsourcing the homes to Care UK saves the council about £1m a year but, the council says, there can be no drop in care standards.