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Mears focuses on Housing Solutions with exit from Domiciliary Care

Mears focuses on Housing Solutions with exit from Domiciliary Care

Mears Group today announces the sale of its Scottish domiciliary care business following the exit from our English operations in January 2020.

This forms part of our long-term strategy to re-focus our business, providing housing solutions to our partners in local and central government which includes our extra care and supported living offer.

Mears takes pride in its ability to provide the housing requirements of a wide range of customers, including many who are vulnerable and some who have long-term health needs.

For many years, the Group has been a major provider of domiciliary care services to public sector customers across Great Britain. At Mears, we are very proud of our achievements in improving service delivery and the pay and conditions of the workforce across the business. However, regrettably the sector remains severely underfunded. We do hope that the appreciation given to care work during Covid is extended with more funding for care in the future.

In January 2020, the Board resolved progressively to exit our domiciliary care activities and the business in England and Wales was sold. We now announce the sale of our Scottish domiciliary care business to Cera Care who were also the buyer of our English Division.

Building our Extra Care market

Mears has called on Government and local authorities to build 400,000 extra care homes over the next 10 years.

The Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) estimates that there are approximately 520,000 units of retirement housing (including some degree of support or care) in England. EAC estimates a substantial shortfall in housing and care provision by 2035 of nearly 400,000 units of purpose-built housing for older people in England.

Mears intend to build on our housing with care solutions for our local authority clients. Under Mears’ Extra Care and Support Living programmes, we manage the build, maintenance and provision of care to specially-adapted homes for elderly and disabled people to help them live independently for longer. This is exemplified by our recent contract award to manage 10 extra care units across Cornwall.

In a report commissioned by Mears with the Housing Learning and Improvement Network we found that Extra Care living can reduce costs to the NHS, reduce the incidence of falls, loneliness, and visits to GPs. An example of one of our communities is Balmoral Place in Northamptonshire – find out more about our service here

David Miles, Chief Executive of Mears commented:

“In January 2020, prior to the Covid-19 crisis, we made the difficult decision to sell our domiciliary care business in Scotland in order to focus on housing related services, including supported living provision, which enables people with disabilities to live independent lives. Mears has repeatedly warned that until the Government commits to a sustainable funding model for the care sector then providers will not be able to deliver on the basis of continued driving down of cost at the expense of good service user care.

I am so proud of how our care colleagues have performed over the pandemic, to support vulnerable people and continue to deliver services despite the risks.  

"We chose to halt the sale of the business during the pandemic to ensure that there was no unnecessary upheaval to service users at such a difficult time, but we now feel the time is right to proceed. Mears is committed to ensuring that the sale will be as smooth as possible for our colleagues and our service users.

“The sale is now nearing completion following months of consultation, including with trade union representatives, to ensure minimal disruption to customers, staff and those in receipt of our services.”

Mears in Numbers in 2020

  • We provide and manage 17,000 homes for local and central Government
  • Mears has 6,200 employees
  • We are responsible for keeping 750,000 social housing homes in the UK in good repair
  • We complete over 6,000 repairs per day
  • We have recently won a contract to manage 10 new extra care schemes across Cornwall
  • We are the number one private registered provider of social housing in the UK
  • Maintenance contract win rate is over 80%
  • We reported revenues for the year of £983.3m (2018: £869.8m), an increase of 13% in 2019
  • Our order book is valued at £2.7bn as at 30 June 2020
  • Asylum Contract is worth in excess of £110m turnover pa for 10 years
  • MOD Contract value worth £60m pa with profit share mechanism
  • We are listed as 36th within the Top 75 organisations recognised in the Social Mobility Index
  • Sunday Times Top 25 Best Big Companies for the 2nd year in a row
  • Awarded a place in FTSE4Good Index which places Mears in the top 9% of companies in the index
  • We employ nearly 600 apprentices
  • 18 consecutive Golds in the Health and Safety Awards run by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
  • 2,051 social value interventions in 2019
  • Net Social Impact in 2019: £57.5m

Q&A

1. When was this decision made?

The decision to dispose of Mears Group’s interests in domiciliary care was announced in our 2020 end of year results, with the sale of our English and Welsh domiciliary care divisions. This was made in January 2020, prior to the Covid-19 health crisis. The sale was paused in order to limit disruption to customers, staff and those in receipt of our services during the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

2. How does this affect Mears Group’s operations in Scotland?

Mears Group is committed to growth, job creation and the provision of quality services in Scotland. We are actively bidding for new housing contracts and other housing, Extra Care housing and Facilities Management opportunities and will engage with organisations across the country to support them in the delivery of services. We continue to focus on our strengths and the key areas, including housing, where we add value. We are currently in the process of becoming a Registered Social Landlord which will enable us to offer good quality and affordable housing to those who need it most. This will also mean that Mears Scotland will be approved and regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

3. What were the factors that led Mears Group to make this decision?

The main factor has been our strategic decision to focus on housing. However, all parties of the Government have consistently failed to provide a long-term funding solution for the care sector; despite our repeated warnings that the current model is unsustainable. Our renewed focus is to offer quality and value through housing related services. This includes care where it is most closely associated with housing, such as supported living provision. We believe this is where we offer best value and where we can grow the business in Scotland.

5. What is the impact on jobs?

Throughout this process our goal has been to protect jobs and ensure the continuation of service provision. 1000 individuals currently employed by Mears Group will move to Cera.

6. How much money is Mears saving by taking this action?

We are not saving any money.

7. What has Mears done to ensure the people in receipt of care are not adversely affected by this decision?

In January 2020, we signalled our intention to sell the domiciliary care business in Scotland. Since then, the public health crisis has had a profound impact on our society, and on our business. As a responsible employer and service provider, we delayed the sale in order to limit disruption and minimise the level of uncertainty; faced by our customers, staff and most importantly the individuals and their families who rely on the provision of care in their homes.

As we emerge slowly from the Covid-19 lockdown, we feel it is now appropriate to complete the sale. We will do all that we can to ensure an efficient transition for all involved as we did during the sale of the English and Welsh transition.

8. Which other areas of the business are being considered for closure? What is the potential impact on jobs?

No other areas of business are being considered for closure. During Covid-19, we were disappointed that a small number of our partners failed to adhere to guidelines about payment of suppliers. We therefore took the decision to end our relationships with them.  Mears Group is committed to our presence in Scotland and is actively growing the business north of the border. As a business, we will continue to evaluate our services and the value we bring to communities across Scotland, ensuring always that we deliver quality services at the point of need.

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Dan Garfield on Daniel.garfield@mearsgroup.co.uk; 07825745625

About Mears

Mears Group is a market leading housing and care company that provides bespoke services to our clients. We provide and manage 11,000 homes for local and central Government and are also responsible for keeping 750,000 of all social housing in the UK in good repair. Mears has 6,500 employees and a footprint across the country.

Our report with the Housing Learning and Improvement Network on the potential future demand for extra care housing is available here

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