Half the privately-owned care homes in Sussex are under threat of closure, claims the owner of one home.

Tony Andrews, chairman of the East Sussex Residential Care Home Association, who runs a home in St Leonards, warned half the privately-owned businesses may be forced to close after the Government's National Minimum Standards come into force in April.

Mr Andrews said: "I think 50 per cent is a conservative figure.

"The standards are absurd and don't have anything to do with the day-to-day care of the elderly. It won't improve the quality of life for the residents.

"The saving grace is that the standards are so ridiculous they may be impossible for the Government to enforce."

Imposed changes for many homes include installing a shaft lift, widening door frames and ensuring all rooms are en suite and meet specific size requirements.

In October The Argus reported the imminent closure of care home Michel House, Upperton Road, Eastbourne, owned by Mick and Linda Ryder.

The couple were forced to sell Michel House because they could not foot the £30,000 bill needed to meet the standards.

Mrs Ryder said: "All the residents were re-housed but my fear is they will have to move again and that is just wicked.

"On the final day some were crying and one said they may as well be dead. One of them had not packed his cases on the last day and said he wouldn't go. It was a blow to them but we had no choice. There were no grants available to help us."

Mrs Ryder predicted the future of care for the elderly in the county was bleak.

She said: "There are six or seven care homes on the market in Eastbourne and many are applying for changes of use.

"We are going to have the care system we deserve and I think the future is bleak. People don't care about the elderly until it is their mother or father who needs care.

"Closing the homes won't make the hospital waiting lists any shorter either and my forecast is that many people will try to ride it out but after April the closures will accelerate."