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Social Care Can Help Economic Recovery

Rapidly growing demand for social care can play a key role in the economic recovery of the UK, a local representative group said today.

As economic indicators point to more positive times ahead, The Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire) says social care can help that recovery.

Yorkshire in particular is well-placed to become a “centre of excellence” for social care provision, including social care tourism.

But the group warns that the Government and local authorities will have to recognise the vital and growing contribution the sector makes and support it urgently.

The Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham is seeking a meeting with Business Secretary Vince Cable to press the case for social care to get better Government support.

The group has also made a submission to the Enterprise Partnership for York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding, pressing the case for social care to be included in economic development plans for the future.

Mr Padgham said: “Everyone is buoyed by the encouraging news on the economy and optimistic that better times are around the corner. But it is vital that every sector in the UK economy is able to play its part in this recovery and none more so than social care.

“We need the Government to see that social care is vital. Vital for the rapidly growing number of people who need it to live a full and active life and vital for the massive contribution it makes to the UK economy.”

Social care in one form or another is used by more than 1.8m people. There are almost 20,500 registered care homes, nursing homes and residential homes in the UK. More than 200,000 people aged over 65 are in residential care funded by their council or the NHS.

In 2011-12 some 517,000 adults received home care, adding up to a total of 188m hours in a market worth £5.5bn

In North Yorkshire alone there are 258 registered care and nursing homes providing a total of 7,041 beds. In York there are 33 care and nursing homes providing 1,270 beds.

Conservative estimates from a Skills for Care report suggest that the sector directly contributes around £20bn to the English economy, with that figure rising to around £43bn when the indirect and induced effects are added. At a direct contribution of £20bn, that is more than, for example, the production and distribution of electricity and gas (£16bn) or the food and drink service industry (£19bn).

The adult social care sector provides 1.7m jobs – 6.4% of the total workforce in England and more than the construction industry (1.1m) or the transportation, storage and postal industry at 1.1m.

The value of the care market in North Yorkshire is around £220m and it employs at least 10,670 people – one of the highest proportions in the country. Other industries associated with the provision of care will considerably swell this number of people employed.

All indicators point to a rapid and steep increase in demand for social care in the coming years. By 2026, an additional 1.7 million adults in England will have care and support needs. The number of people with dementia in the UK will increase from 750,000 to over 1 million people by 2025. The number of people with a learning disability needing care or support will increase by 50% by 2018.

The care group argues that care providers are keen to invest in their businesses to meet this rising demand and to provide higher quality care and to innovate.

Mr Padgham added: “The region has a well-developed and innovative base of social care providers who, with the proper support, are capable of meeting rising demand. It is well placed to become a ‘centre of excellence’ for social care.

“Our region, with its coastal, countryside and city attractions, is also well-placed to create a fantastic social care tourism offer, providing care for people during holidays or short breaks.

“But we need the Government and local authorities to recognise the impact investment in social care could bring, via investment in new provision, building work, jobs and training.”

Greater support for social care businesses could start with addressing the VAT anomaly – the situation where care providers are charged VAT but cannot reclaim it.

“Ending this anomaly or at the very least giving providers a time-limited VAT holiday to encourage investment would be one step in the right direction,” Mr Padgham added.

“Overall though we need the Government to invest in social care, in the knowledge that that investment will be repaid both in human terms and in a contribution to the economy.”

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