Suffolk Conservative Party bankrolled by private care homes firm

5 March 2013


DAVID  Ruffley MP’s Conservative constituency association received a £10,000 donation from the wife of the chairman of the company (Care UK) to which it later handed control of the county’s 16 care homes, Suffolk Green Party can reveal.


The Suffolk Green Party today called for Suffolk Conservatives to make public the total amount of money they received from Care UK and its associates and to explain the exact process they used in selecting Care UK to run homes for Suffolk’s vulnerable elderly. 


Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green & Independent Group on Suffolk County Council said: “Following concerns raised by a number of my constituents I asked Mark Bee, Suffolk Conservative leader, whether Care UK or its associates made any donations to Conservative County Councillors, the seven Suffolk MPs (all Conservative) or to the seven Suffolk Conservative Associations in the past five years.”


“After more than a month, two emails, a phone conversation and a voicemail message, I had still not received an answer. So we began our own research. Consulting the House of Commons register of member’s interests, the first thing we find is a £10,000 donation from Caroline Nash to David Ruffley’s constituency  association declared in November 2009. Caroline Nash is the wife of John Nash who at the time was chairman of Care UK.


The Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association supported not only Mr Ruffley’s re-election as MP in May 2010 but also the election in May 2009 of seven Conservative county councillors. The Association was well known publically to be in severe financial difficulties in early 2009 when the bailiff was called to its offices in Woolpit due to unpaid Council tax bills.


I now ask Mr Bee

  1. Were any of those seven Conservative councillors involved in the decision to sell the county’s residential homes to Care UK? If so they appear to be in clear breach of their code of conduct.
  2. What efforts were made to ensure the County Council got the best deal for the older and vulnerable people in Suffolk before selling the homes to Care UK and awarding Care UK the bed contract?
  3. Did the Cabinet Member for Adult Services (Cllr Noble), who is also Vice President of neighbouring West Suffolk Conservative Association, know about the donation to Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association?

  1. Are there any other donations from Care UK or its associates to any other of Suffolk’s seven Conservative Associations, County Councillors or MPs in the past five years?


We note that Mr Bee works full-time as an election agent for the Waveney Conservative Association so is ideally placed to acquire this information.

Back in 2010, there was widespread newspaper coverage of the fact that John Nash, the then chairman of Care UK, had helped bankroll the election of nearby Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley, then Conservative shadow health secretary.

Last month Mr Nash was appointed a Conservative Education Minister and life peer. Although he left as chairman of Care UK in spring 2010, he retained a substantial shareholding. He has, along with his wife, donated nearly £300,000 to Conservative Party since 2006 and £288,000 since David Cameron became leader.

 Mr Ereira-Guyer said: “If further donations have been made to Suffolk Conservative Associations, Councillors or MPs by Care UK or Mr Nash, this would heighten public disquiet and unease about recent arrangements put in place in regard to the County's Care homes.

 “Care UK’s private equity owners stand to make a considerable amount of money from Suffolk people by selling for redevelopment the sites of the care homes it has bought, and from its three and a half year contract to provide beds for Suffolk’s vulnerable older people.”




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