A CARE provider which was launched by a Basingstoke hospice has gone into liquidation, with the hospice set to lose out on funding it invested into the business.

St Michael’s Home Care was launched in 2015 by St Michael’s Hospice using a donation given specifically to set up a domiciliary care agency, the funds of which would not have otherwise been made available.

The private company supported thousands of local people to be able to stay in their homes and improve their quality of life and was set up to gift its profits to the hospice.

However, it appointed a voluntary liquidator on January 13 this year having struggled during the pandemic, and statements on Companies House website show St Michael’s Hospice listed as an unsecured creditor, meaning it may not recover some of the debt it is owed.

St Michael’s Hospice chief executive, Iain Cameron, said: “We had a vision to bring the same high standards of care that we provide to our hospice patients to those who needed extra support at home. We are enormously proud of what we achieved and the care we provided over the five years.

“Thanks to the hard work of the incredible Home Care staff, we never allowed our standards or vision to falter. So, it was with great regret that due to the pandemic and the overwhelming pressure this placed on staffing levels Home Care became unviable as a business.

“Charity Commission regulations for trading subsidiaries dictate that charities should not support loss making businesses and in these difficult economic times, the hospice was no longer able to financially support the running of Home Care through the pandemic.

“St Michael’s Hospice services remain unaffected by the closure. The hospice continues to provide its Hospice at Home service to palliative and end of life patients within their homes as well as all its services to patients on its inpatient unit.”

The hospice, based in Aldermaston Road, is listed as being owed £345,000 by the company.

However, the net loss was said to be £83,846.

Its preferential creditors include HM Revenue and Customs, employee arrears and holiday pay, and pension schemes, totalling £18,030.07.

St Michael’s Hospice’s accounts on the Charity Commission website from 2016 show that it established St Michael’s Home Care Limited to “mitigate the risk” regarding finances to fund its work.

The hospice reported a net loss of £577,000 for the year 2016, which included £123,000 to St Michael’s Home Care.

It said: “This business is still in its start-up phase and is projected to make monthly profits in 2017.”

In 2016 the hospice loaned £250,000 to the company.

The business was predicted to make a loss of £38,000 in 2017, after which it was expected to make a surplus.

However, by 2017 the company had instead made a loss of £60,000.

St Michael’s Hospice reported in its accounts that the target was for the company to repay its short-term loans by 2020.

The following year in 2018 the company recorded losses of £33,000 and the target to repay its loans was changed to 2022.

In 2019 the business recorded a profit of £69,000 and repaid £50,000 of the loan to the hospice.

However, during 2020 the company felt the impact of Covid, with St Michael’s Hospice’s report to the Charity Commission detailing a “drop in customer demand and increased outgoings involved in delivering services against the constraints of a pandemic”.

The company became insolvent and closed in December 2020.

St Michael’s Hospice said the pandemic has severely impacted its ability to fundraise, with all its events cancelled in 2020. It was also impacted by the closure of its charity shops for many months.

Commercial director for St Michael’s, Chris Griffiths, said: “St. Michael’s Home Care domiciliary care workers continued working to help and support some of the most vulnerable people in our community right through the pandemic in 2020.

“Many of these clients had been with Home Care for a number of years and we focused on two priorities as we wound the business down - making sure our clients would continue to receive the high standard of care that they deserved and that our 35 dedicated staff would find new roles. To our knowledge all those who were seeking new opportunities have new roles with other providers.”

The domiciliary care sector has been under the spotlight recently after the Health and Social Care Committee published its report, Social Care: Funding and Workforce, which said that social care needs an immediate increase in funding to avoid the risk of market collapse.

The report stated that the crisis in social care funding has been brought into sharp focus by the Covid-19 pandemic and called on the Government to address this as a matter of the utmost urgency.

Health and Social Care Committee Chair, Jeremy Hunt MP said: “Social care is in urgent need of reform, not only to deliver the necessary funding, but to support our crucial social care workforce.”

Mr Cameron said he recognised many of the difficulties raised in the report. “Good quality care should be something that is available to everyone but providing that care without the support of a national plan for social care is very difficult,” he said.

“As the hospice faces pressure from other areas right now, it just became unsustainable for Home Care to carry on. It is vital that we focus on our core service, care for those at the end of their lives.

He added: “I would like to personally thank the local community who continue to support our patients and their families.”