The Competition and Markets Authority have recently closed their public consultation on the Care Homes Market. It is a broad-reaching study, which seeks to determine whether, as consumers, service users are being treated fairly. But it also intends to consider whether the current market structure and regulatory framework are fit for purpose.

The outcome of this study could include recommending changes to the law, taking consumer or competition enforcement action, publishing guidance to businesses or encouraging businesses to self-regulate.

Whilst they will not look into funding, which is outside of the Competition and Markets Authority's remit, they will be looking at how care providers charge for their services. This hints strongly that they may expose the disparity in fees paid by local authority funded service users and privately funded service users (possibly for the same care). The issue of transparency is not a new one, but the Competition and Markets Authority may use their authority to override previous objections.

The interim report is required to be published no later than 1 June 2017 with the full report to be published on or before 1 December 2017. This could herald a shake-up of the sector.

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