Doncaster care home boss pocketed extra £2m as firm got £2m furlough cash

A Doncaster care home paid himself an extra £2 million last year after his business received £2m in furlough pay and Government grants, a report has said.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 10:01 am

Wealthy business tycoon Gordon Sanders owns Runwood Homes which has five residential care homes in Doncaster

Mr Sanders, 75, who has an estimated net worth of £250 million, paid himself £1m in dividends in 2019 and then £3m in 2020, after the firm received £2.02m in taxpayer-funded hand-outs, a report in the Eastern Daily Press revealed.

The Norfolk-based newspaper said the company made a profit of £19.8m last year, when the average salary of its 4,000 staff was less than £17,000.

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Gordon Sanders of Runwood Homes. (Photo: Runwood Homes).

Eileen Chubb, founder of the whistleblowing charity Compassion in Care, said: “Every day we deal with people who’ve lost loved ones for want of investment in care homes, and staff who are living on the breadline.

“It is absolutely obscene that anybody should be paying themselves that amount of money, especially when the money has come from the taxpayer.”

Runwood currently has five care homes in Doncaster – Liberty House in Cantley, Gattison House in Rossington, Rose House in Armthorpe, Rowena House in Conisbrough and Oldfield House in Stainforth.

Earlier this year, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission said that Rowena House needed to improve and the facility had its ‘good’ ranking removed after reports raised a number of concerns about several procedures at the home.

The EDP said in its report that according to accounts filed at Companies House for their financial year ending September 2020, the business received a total of £2,019,315 in government grants, including Mutual Aid and Infection Control funding to help with the costs of the pandemic. A company spokeswoman confirmed the firm also took furlough payments.

The accounts show Mr Sanders, a company director and its sole shareholder, took a dividend of £3,000,000 in 2020, up from £1,000,000 in 2019.

The company also paid its highest-paid director £3,044,084 in salary in 2020, and a similar amount the year before.

The other five directors split just over £1m between them. Meanwhile the company’s 4,557 employees received an average salary of £16,765.

There is no suggestion either Mr Sanders or Runwood Homes have broken the law or are in breach of the rules of the furlough scheme, although other profitable companies including Primark, Asos, Ikea and Halfords have since paid back their furlough money to the Treasury.

A spokeswoman for Runwood Homes told the Eastern Daily Press: “Following government advice, we chose to furlough a small percentage of staff who were unable to work in their frontline care roles, due to extreme clinical vulnerability, shielding and through the emerging risk they were exposed to as healthcare workers. This was the right thing to do.”

She added that the health of residents and staff had been the top priority throughout the year and the firm had launched enhanced sick pay to support staff who faced financial difficulty due to having to self-isolate and provided access to 24-hour emotional support.