A SCOTS care at home firm has been placed into liquidation with debts of over £500,000 - raising concerns for the vulnerable in their care.

Around 43 Assist Homecare (Scotland) Ltd service users were told care giving had ended on Friday and nearly 50 staff were handed the news that their contracts had been terminated.

The Ayrshire company, based at the Stevenston industrial estate and provides support services to vulnerable adults throughout North Ayrshire, was co-founded in 2011.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs issued a liquidation notice to the company as a result of unpaid tax over the past three years and is believed to have accumulated over £500,000 in debt.

The staff provide packages of support hours which varies from a few hours per week to twenty four hours per day to enable people to live independently in their own homes.

Ken Pattullo and Kenny Craig of Begbies Traynor were appointed as joint liquidators.

Thomas McKay, a partner at Begbies Traynor in Scotland, said: “We are currently working with the key stakeholders including HMRC, North Ayrshire Council, the Care Inspectorate and the company staff, to ensure continued delivery of care to patients.

HeraldScotland:

"We are seeking to ensure continuity of care for vulnerable clients who rely on support and this is our priority in these difficult circumstances."

A petition for a winding up order was first presented to Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on behalf of HMRC on June 30.

Assist Homecare provides people with learning and physical disabilities and a small number of older people with approximately 1,060 hours of care per week.

A document circulated to officials says North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership (NAHSCP) have been trying to rescue the jobs of Assist Homecare workers as the HSCP is "not currently in a position to cover the level of care required for the individuals" at such short notice.

A report from Caroline Cameron, the director of North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: "The only viable option is for the HSCP to attempt to retain the staff group to ensure service delivery can continue to our vulnerable service users over the weekend and in the immediate future, this will also allow us to support the Assist staff who are at risk of losing employment."

It goes on: "This situation will be very distressing for staff and service users. Earlier engagement with the HSCP in relation to the financial position and court action could have allowed for a planned period of transition, whilst still disruptive, would have been far better for staff and service users. The late notification and non-payment of wages by the provider has led to this necessary urgent response."

The latest financial analysis of the company shows that it owed £331,327 to creditors in the year up to March 31, 2020.

A further £184,194 was outstanding from the previous 12 months, adding up to a total debt of more than £515,000.

Its last Care Inspectorate inspection report from 2019 said that the quality of care and support and staffing was classed as 'very good'. The level of management and leadership was not assessed.

The inspectors said: "Assist Homecare Ltd. continues to deliver a very good standard of care and support that meets people's needs, enabling them to live in their own homes. People can expect to receive high quality care and support that is right for them and to experience compassion, dignity and respect.

We observed competent, caring and compassionate support being delivered. We could see that carers knew people well, they knew how to deliver essential care in a way that was right for the person and in a way they were comfortable with. People we observed appeared very relaxed and familiar with staff and people we spoke to told us they were very happy with the service. We could see that people trusted and relied on the service and it was evident that support had a positive impact on people's daily lives."