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Social care in post-Brexit Britain

The surprise result in the UK’s European Union (EU) referendum has created many questions about the future our relationship with the EU and its economic prospects as a result. Business and political leaders working in the social care sector – which was already facing significant challenges before the referendum – need to rally together to avoid fallout and capitalise on the opportunities that might arise from a new working relationship with the EU and wider afield.

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Managing the new normal

On April the first this year, the National Minimum Wage that employers are obliged to pay staff increased to £7.20 an hour for those aged 25 and over. As a result of this policy, millions of low paid workers have seen their salaries increase by 50 pence an hour, which will make a significant difference to their pay packets each month. The social care sector has been at the forefront of the changes, with many of its 1.3 million employees qualifying for the mandatory increase. This is well-deserved too; social care workers perform crucial work within society and should well remunerated for the differences they make to the lives of those they care for.

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A sector under pressure

In April, one of Britain’s biggest residential care providers, Four Seasons Care, reported an annual loss of £264 million – putting even more pressure on a company £500 million in the red. The collapse of Four Seasons would have severe fallout for its residents – the firm cares for 18,500 elderly people in 62 homes – as well as the wider social care sector. Worryingly, the brand is far from an isolated example; recent research from the BBC suggests a quarter of care homes in the UK are currently at risk of closure, and many face an uphill struggle when it comes to raising capital following debt downgrades.

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