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Council confident of back-up plan if Interserve cannot provide home care for Norfolk customers

A stock picture of an elderly woman receiving help from her carer. Interserve Healthcare provides home care services such as these in Norfolk. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

A stock picture of an elderly woman receiving help from her carer. Interserve Healthcare provides home care services such as these in Norfolk. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

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Council bosses say they have plans in place to protect people in Norfolk being cared for by government contractor Interserve, which is trying to finalise a rescue package.

The company provides outsourced services for many government departments but concerns over its future have been mounting since details emerged of how it aims to handle its £500m debts.

In Norfolk, the company’s Interserve Healthcare arm provides home care to a small number of customers – 12 at the time of its most recent CQC report, in 2016.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “Interserve Healthcare is one of the providers on our home care framework and provide a very small number of hours of home care to several customers.

“We continue to monitor the position with Interserve to ensure that people’s needs continue to be met. More widely, the council has contingency arrangements in place in the event of provider failure to ensure that we can step in and protect key services to individuals if providers are no longer able to deliver them.”

The home care arrangement appears to be Interserve’s only obligation in East Anglia.

Shares in the contractor plummeted on Monday morning after the firm said shareholders are likely to see their stakes diluted as part of a plan to cut its debt.

It emerged over the weekend that the company, which holds contracts for a range of services in prisons, schools and hospitals, was holding talks with lenders over its £500m debt pile.

In a statement released to the market on Monday morning, Interserve said a plan had not yet been finalised but was likely to involve “material dilution” for current shareholders.

Shares in the company dropped as much as 75% to just 6p in early trading.

Chief executive Debbie White said the discussions were a positive step in a refinancing process which was agreed in April.

She added that the Cabinet Office had expressed support for the firm’s recovery plan.

“The fundamentals of our business remain strong,” she said.

The Labour Party called on Sunday for a temporary ban on Interserve bidding for any public contracts.

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