At last night’s cabinet meeting once again we were informed that yet another company set up by the Labour Administration, YourCare Ltd. was in dire financial straits. This was another company set up by the council as a limited company in 2017 to sell support equipment such as wheelchairs and support equipment for the vulnerable here in Croydon.
The company has a gross debt of £291,000 cumulative losses of £238,000 and a holding provision of £94,000. Sadly for Croydon residents this is another debt that will take 40 years to pay off.
The company’s objective was to be the retailer of choice but with the suggestion that the equipment was overpriced and uncompetitive it was unlikely to succeed. There was very low uptake from Croydon University Hospital and other local authorities who had presumably secured “better deals”.
Conservative members including myself were stopped from asking questions of which there were many. The original paperwork for the company was signed off by Cllr Simon Hall and Cllr Louisa Woodley. When Cllr Janet Campbell took office as the Cabinet Member for Families, Health and Social Care you would have hoped that she would have had some idea of the dynamic and operating model of the company.
Some of the questions I would have hoped to get answers to included:
- What was the cabinet members involvement/oversight of the Board meetings and the point at which she had concerns over the governance of Your Care and why she chose not to take action sooner.
- What was the cabinet members’ view of the dynamic of the operating model given the low take up of purchase from CUH and other local authorities.
- Was she aware that other companies were able to provide effectively better equipment for less money or indeed purchase products via the NHS.
- Were deficit recharges rectified that may have impacted the company causing any adverse variance in the financial forecasts.
- Given the anticipate growth and complexity of the company what sort of system of financial control existed. Were quarterly and annual reports, systems for analysis presented alongside future commercial analysis of trades, bad debts, cash flow and all outturn positions.
- At what point did you realise the company was not sufficiently capitalised to continue and heading for closure.
- Internal and external audit should have played a key role along with the risk management analysis. Were these processes in place and when were concerns highlighted in the monitoring process?
Sadly Labour members would not take Conservative questions on this matter.