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FOI requests reveal Fife Council paying double the going rate to build care homes

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ONE OF SCOTLAND’S most experienced care home operators has revealed that Fife Council plans to construct three care homes which, per bed, will be the most expensive ever built in Scotland.

Following responses to FOI requests by Robert Kilgour, Chairman of Renaissance Care, it has been established that two 24-bed care homes planned for Cupar and Anstruther, due for completion in November 2023 and September 2024 at a cost of £6.6m each, will cost £275,000 per bed excluding land costs, as the council already own both plots of land.

The sums involved supplant the previous record, also held by Fife Council, in building a 36-bed care home at Methil – due to be completed in April 2022 – whose £7.2m cost equated to £200,000 per bed, again excluding land costs for the same reason.

By comparison the independent sector is currently building the equivalent standard of care homes for £115-120,000 per bed excluding land costs. £275,000 per bed for public build against £120,000 per bed for private build means Fife Council is willing to pay twice the going rate simply to award the building contract to itself. 

Fife Council’s Methilhaven home will be part of a care village development, also comprising an early years nursery and 35 two-bedroom care bungalows, which another Kilgour FOI request revealed to have rocketed in cost from the £10.6m quoted in 2018 to a current projection of £16.8m.

In revealing the evidence of the FOI, Robert Kilgour said, “There seems to have been no competitive tendering for this Methil project. It is scandalous that Fife Council Building Services is undertaking the Methil contract without any pricing competition from the private sector. This is unnecessary and profligate spending – what other local services in Fife are suffering to fund this unnecessary excess spending?”

Kilgour continued, “Two questions must be asked – firstly, why at such a tough financial time for local councils is Fife Council building three of the most expensive care homes in the country; and secondly, why are building contracts not going out to competitive tender rather than straight to the Council’s own building services department at an inflated cost to Fife council tax players – of which I am one?”

“At this point I would like to offer my services and decades of experience in the care home sector free of charge to Fife Council, and I will help them deliver quality care homes to the people of the Kingdom at a realistic price.”

“It is simply not good value for local taxpayers’ money at a time when public finances are massively under pressure, and there is a real responsibility for Fife Council to get value for money from the public purse.”

He added, “Local authorities say they are strapped for cash and can’t afford to pay independent sector care homes the true cost of care. I want to highlight the double standards in operation. There is no level playing field – local councils are not being realistic and honest in recognising the true costs of care.”

An offer of help from Kilgour should not be quickly dismissed, he knows a thing or two about building and running care homes.  A Scottish serial entrepreneur, investor and property developer, Kilgour founded Four Seasons Health Care in 1988, opening its first care home in May 1989 in Kirkcaldy in Fife. He eventually left the company in early 2000 by which time it was operating 101 care homes and employing around 6,500 staff, the UK’s fifth largest, subsequently making his final financial exit from the company in 2004. Today, Four Seasons is still one of the UK’s largest care home operators.

Then in 2004 he founded, and is currently Executive Chairman of, Scottish care home operator, Renaissance Care which has 15 homes and around 1,100 staff throughout Scotland.

In 2006 he also founded this Scottish online political platform, ThinkScotland.org, and in 2017 established SBUK to campaign against a second Scottish Independence Referendum. He regularly writes about on these pages about healthcare and business issues.

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