Boosting investment in social care through tax breaks and incentives to start up new providers could help revive the economy’s flagging fortunes, the government was told today.
Besides creating new jobs in social care itself, investing in the sector would help informal carers return to work and enable people to flexibly combine work and family responsibilities, said a report from Carers UK issued today.
A survey by the charity last year found 31% of working-age carers had given up work or reduced their hours because of the lack of support for their caring role, while the annual cost of carers leaving work has been estimated at £1.3bn by the Personal Social Services Research Unit.
At the same time, people juggling work and multiple family and caring responsibilities were looking for ways in which they could pay others to undertake some of these tasks, while formal social care services were failing to meet the rising needs of older and disabled people.
This made care “the inevitable growth sector – a good news story for struggling economies”, said the report. It proposed a number of ways to stimulate the care economy:
- Providing people with tax credits or vouchers with which to purchase social care, similar to existing arrangements for childcare.
- Providing tax incentives for people to start-up small social are businesses.
- Placing a duty on local authorities to ensure a sufficiency of supply of care services in their area, along similar lines to councils’ existing duty to stimulate childcare services.
Value of carers outstrips NHS budget