Care homes in northeastern England have issued a legal warning to North Tyneside council, claiming they may have to shut if they do not secure additional funding.

Care North East, which represents 21 care homes in North Tyneside, has declared a “force majeure” episode, effectively breaking the terms of its contract because of a major event. In a letter, the care firm says the council has failed to provide the money needed to support care homes and meet additional costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The council says that care homes were given a 5 per cent increase in April along with a further 5 per cent to cope with coronavirus.

In its letter Care North East warns that the care home market in the region “is facing imminent collapse due to the council’s conduct in the lead up to and during the current coronavirus pandemic”.

It adds that it believes the council’s actions have “weakened and undermined the sustainability of the care home market; such that the market is incapable of withstanding the costs and effects of Covid-19”.

Jacqui Old, director of children’s and adult services at North Tyneside Council, told Sky News: “We recognise there are additional pressures on North Tyneside’s care sector during the pandemic.

“The sector is hugely important to us and we have listened to the concerns of our providers to see what extra funding and support they may need, as the crisis continues; we are working hard together to keep staff and residents safe.

“In April, in line with many other local authorities, we provided a 5 per cent increase in funding along with an additional 5 per cent to cover other Covid-19 costs. In addition to this we are discussing additional bespoke financial support to care homes.”