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Growth in care market could be a 'triple win' as Carers UK warns of care crisis costs to business

01 May 2012

Carers UK calls for care growth strategy as new figures show cost of families forced to give up work to care reaches £1.3bn

Carers UK has today joined with business leaders to call for a new strategy to stimulate growth in services to support older and disabled people and deliver a ‘triple win’ for families, employers and the economy.

In a new report, Carers UK argues that, alongside urgent action from Government to invest in the social care system, a ‘new care economy’ could not only help meet the needs of an ageing population and deliver substantial economic gains but mitigate against growing costs to business of failures in care.

The report argues that diminishing local council social care services are not only pushing families to breaking point, but also hitting business productivity. As fewer older and disabled people are able to access overstretched social care services, Carers UK and businesses report that growing numbers of family members are being forced to give up work to care for ill or disabled loved ones – unable to get the reliable or affordable support to juggle work and care.

A survey of over 4,000 carers by the charity, found that 31% of working age carers gave up work to care or reduced their working hours because local care services were unsuitable with previous research estimating that 1 million people had given up work or reduced working hours to care. A new study published last week from the LSE estimated the public expenditure cost of families quitting their jobs to care is a staggering £1.3 billion a year in carers’ benefits and lost tax revenues.

The report, Growing the Care Marketpoints to international evidence that stimulating growth in the care market can deliver sustained economic growth – with a care strategy from the French Government leading to the creation of 100,000 jobs a year and making the care sector one of the fastest growth sectors in the country.

As the Government prepares to publish plans on the future of care for older and disabled people, the charity has joined with major employers to call for a new National Care Strategy to kick-start joint action between Government and the business community to stimulate growth in the care market.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:

“It’s time to turn the demographic challenge into an economic opportunity. Instead of seeing growing care needs as a ‘demographic problem’ we need to reshape our economy, workplaces and services to fit the needs of modern families. The current crisis in care means that Government cannot escape the need to invest in chronically underfunded social care services. But whether you are an individual buying your own care or a local council commissioning social care services - it is in all our interests to cultivate a vibrant care market.”

Caroline Waters OBE, Director, People & Policy, for BT Group and Chair of Employers Forum Employers for Carers, said:

“Growing the care market is essential for UK business and workplaces and would be an economic ‘triple win’. Employers are seeing increasing numbers of key staff forced to give up work because they cannot get the support to juggle work with caring for ill or disabled loved ones. We need action now, to tackle this growing challenge to business productivity but also embrace the opportunity to develop a new care economy.”

Public expenditure costs of carers leaving employment (2012) Pickard, L. LSE Health & Social Care, London School of Economics and Political Science 

Carers UK’s State of Caring survey of 4,289 carers was conducted online between September 2010 and July 2011. 31% of working age respondents stated that they had given up work to care or reduced their working hours because local care services were inflexible, unsuitable, unavailable or too expensive.

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