Bonnyton Care Home sold for £340,000

Kirsten Oswald MP was just one of the opponents against selling Bonnyton House.
Kirsten Oswald MP was just one of the opponents against selling Bonnyton House.

Bonnyton House care home in Busby will have a new owner in the coming months after councillors agreed to sell it at a meeting last week.

A new care provider has been identified and will take over the running of the home from East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (ERHSCP), with all staff being transferred over as part of the process.

This will allow continuity of care for the residents, whilst an agreement has also been reached to ensure current charges for residents remain unchanged.

Councillor Alan Lafferty, Chair of the East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board, said: “This has been a difficult process for all involved, and we appreciate the patience that residents and families have shown throughout. By concluding the sale of Bonnyton House it will bring to an end a period of uncertainty. Both staff and families will have the opportunity to meet the new operator in the near future, which will provide an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.”

The sale of Bonnyton House to a new operator was identified and consulted on as part of a package of proposals in 2014 to address a forecast £20million funding gap during the budget setting process for the period 2015 -2018.

Following consultation the Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board (IJB) agreed to sell Bonnyton House as a going concern in October 2015 and since then senior officers have worked hard with staff, residents, families and stakeholders to ensure that the sale and marketing process was as smooth as possible.

While the sale has therefore already been agreed by the IJB, Councillors are required to approve its sale to the preferred bidder because the building still remains a council asset.

The council claims the new provider taking ownership of the care home has a track record of providing quality care.

A deal has been agreed which will see the new owners, Mrs Sharda Poddar and Mr Puneet Gupta, purchase Bonnyton House for £340,000. A condition of the deal is that the facility must continue to be used as a care home.

To ensure continuity of care the HSCP is also taking steps to ensure that all existing residents can remain at the home for as long as they wish going forward.

East ren Council have told The Extra that Mrs Poddar has been involved in the care home sector for 25 years and currently owns three other care homes which receive good, consistent Care Inspectorate grades. Mr Gupta is a pharmacist by profession but now runs a range of successful businesses across different sectors and that he has been the recipient of a number business awards at both a Scottish and UK level and has also been nationally recognised for his contribution to charitable causes.

Bonnyton House currently provides 28 permanent and six respite beds. In preparing for the sale of the care home, ERHSCP has already arranged alternative day care options for people who had previously attended at Bonnyton.

Once the new owners take over Bonnyton House they plan to invest significantly in the facility to increase the number of beds to around 45, offering enhanced residential care options to people in East Renfrewshire and also leading to more employment in the area

Julie Murray, Chief of Officer of ER HSCP, said: “We will continue to work with families, residents and staff as the sale of Bonnyton House comes to a conclusion. It is pleasing that we have reached this stage and I’m confident that the new operator will continue to ensure the best quality care is provided to our residents. Following this decision, it is important that we continue to work with the new provider, staff and the Trade Unions to ensure satisfactory transfer arrangements are now put in place.”

As part of the transfer of staff, Administration councillors insisted that the council supplements pension contributions for a period of three years to match the employer contribution currently in place.

The new operator will provide an employer contribution of 6 per cent, with the council providing an additional 13.3 per cent, matching the 19.3 per cent employer contribution currently paid to staff through the Strathclyde Pension Fund.

Kirsten Oswald MP commented: “Those who have campaigned against the sale of Bonnyton House have worked very hard to present their case, always with the needs of residents at heart.

“As we look to the future of Bonnyton, I hope their concerns will be addressed, and that the residents, families and staff will experience a positive caring, living, and work environment.

“My own interest in Bonnyton is longstanding, and will continue.”

Meanwhile Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “Eastwood residents and their families who rely on this local asset have been betrayed by a council unwilling to properly look at any options other than privatisation.

“People often criticise the Conservatives for being in their mind too pro-business, but here in East Renfrewshire my colleagues voted to keep open Bonnyton House as they recognise the need for a public residential care home that serves local residents locally.

“Only time will tell how services will be affected by this decision of Scottish Labour and the SNP but one thing is clear: they cannot be relied upon to protect your local services.”

Councillor Jim Swift, who had tabled alternative proposals for saving Bonnyton House rather than selling it told The Extra: “My first thought is for the residents and staff at Bonnyton House who have been ill-served by the SNP/Labour coalition.

“The sale process has attracted the following capital costs / receipt:-Sales price £340,000 less a pension contribution of £153,000 with an unknown agent’s fee, but if we assume 10 per cent, there’s another £34,000 less along with the cost of the analysis by Grant Thornton billed at £50,000.

“So the actual gain for the Council is a miserly £103,000 for a 34 bedroom property in Busby with licences to operate as a going concern!

“The council maintain they will save £600,000 per annum in revenue savings.

“The day care figures I got last week show the costs of day care has been reduced by £202,000 by redesigning the system and basing it outside Bonnyton House, which left an actual target of £398,000 to save.

“There was some sleight of hand by the convenor of health and social care at the meeting. I put all my figures in the public domain for scrutiny, the council have not.

The convenor rubbished my numbers by claiming that if 50 per cent of residents were on the national care tariff they would be subject to a reduced rate and not the £700 that all residents had agreed to pay to help save the home. When I last met with the director to discuss Bonnyton House, 100 per cent of residents were privately funded. The key word he used was “if” and by doing so, we have more sleight of hand.

“All through this exercise I have been public, shared my numbers and they have not. I am confident that my numbers represent a fair assessment of circumstances.

I maintain that Bonnyton House could and should have been saved, and that the Labour / SNP administration resorting to trickery to support their case showed that it was weak at best and that there is a strong probability that there would have been greater savings in retaining Bonnyton House than selling it.

“That the sale will release no more savings than retaining it for the benefit of residents and release a paltry amount of capital is shameful.

“That the administration had to carefully or carelessly, depending upon your perspective, cook the books to make it work speaks volumes.

“Whilst my first thoughts are with the staff and residents, how can the sale be described as anything better than robbing taxpayers of an asset for marginally more than £100,000 or £3,000 a bedroom. Politics is full of hyperbole, but this justifies the expression, absolutely scandalous.