Charity Commission gives green light to sale of care home below market value

Charity to sell Maryland Residential Home on Merseyside to its finance manager

The Charity Commission has approved the sale of a care home to its finance manager at less than the property's market value, despite complaints from local residents.

Four residents complained to the commission about various aspects of the proposed sale, but the regulator upheld its original ruling in a final decision review on 22 May. The locals could now appeal to the Charity Tribunal.

Maryland Residential Home in Formby, Merseyside, applied to the commission for permission for the sale in January.

A survey was carried out to find out what the market value was, with the property to be sold for less than that. The trustees said they could not afford to keep the care home open because it was too small to be economically viable and had too many vacancies because of falling demand for care home places. They had approached other care home charities with a view to joint working or merger but had been rebuffed.

They said the sale of the home as a going concern to finance manager Suraya Bacon, who is also the wife of one of Maryland's trustees, would avoid the "considerable" expense of closure, and prevent 37 redundancies and its 23 residents from having to move out. They said it would also avoid the uncertainty of a sale on the open market, which is subdued in Formby.

Charles Watson, adviser to Maryland's board, said the care home was run like a commercial business. "We aren't very charitable at the moment," he said. "We charge the full commercial rate."

He said the charity would use the proceeds of the sale to make low-interest loans to elderly people to cover the cost of a care home place while their own houses were being sold. He said this would provide more public benefit and allow the charity to fundraise and recruit new trustees who did not want the burden of running a business.
He said the charity would consider buying back the care home if Bacon wanted to sell it. A covenant guarantees that 100 per cent of the profits of sale or redevelopment within five years, and 75 per cent within 10 years, will go to the charity.

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