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Economy ‘could benefit from freeing family carers for work’

By Richard Johnstone | 15 November 2012

Increasing care provision would allow more family carers to work and boost the economy, a report by Cass Business School has found.

The analysis, commissioned by the charity Carers UK, said ‘a fundamental shift’ in the adult care system would not only better support families but add significant value to gross domestic product.

Report author Leslie Mayhew urged the government to understand ‘the economic costs of failures in care’ as it considered how to reform the current system.

Ministers have confirmed the government is in favour of introducing the cap on individual care cost contributions recommended by the Dilnot review on social care funding. However, they say that a final decision on the proposal, which could cost the government £1.7bn a year, will be taken in the next Comprehensive Spending Review period, set to start in 2015.

Mayhew, professor of statistics at the business school's Faculty of Actuarial Science and Insurance, said reform could act as ‘an engine for economic growth’. More than 3 million of the UK’s 6.4 million family carers attempt to juggle the demands of their disabled or elderly relatives with maintaining a job, UK care economy found.

If each one were able to work full-time, with external care being provided for their relatives, the average annual contribution to GDP would be £47,800, comprised of the incomes of both the carer and the paid care worker.

Reforms were also needed as more families were having to provide care to different generations simultaneously, the so-called ‘pivot generation’, the report added. This could hit growth as care demands grow.

Mayhew said there was a need to be ‘much smarter about how care is organised and delivered’. He added: ‘The system is fragmented and too complex. We need greater integration, better financial incentives, more flexibility, and a focus on prevention.’

The report was commissioned by Carers UK to examine the challenges families are facing and give an independent view on how to improve the lives of family carers.

Chief executive Helena Herklots said: ‘Too often the debate around reform of care for older and disabled people is framed as a drain on public finances. It is time we recognised that helping families to juggle work and care and stimulating a new generation of care services can act as an engine for economic growth.’



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