Employers gear up for our ageing population

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Employers for Carers, the forum for employers seeking to support the 1 in 7 carers in their workforce, welcomed the publication today of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding with Government covering around 1 million employees (1)

The Memorandum sets out how Employers for Carers’ Leadership Group and six Government departments can work together to support implementation of the Carers’ Strategy and to ensure that all parties make a positive contribution to supporting carers in the workplace.

The six government departments were all parties to the National Carers’ Strategy launched by the Prime Minister in June 2008. Led by Department of Health, they also include: Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Government Equalities Office (GEO), Communities and Local Government (CLG) and Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

The joint press release with Government can be viewed here.

Commenting on the launch of the Memorandum, Caroline Waters OBE, Director, People and Policy for BT Group and Chair of Employers for Carers said:

‘Employers for Carers is delighted to be a partner to this landmark agreement.

'‘Many of the UK’s 3 million working carers[1] struggle to combine work with caring for ill, frail or disabled friends or family members. Forward looking employers are already supporting the carers in their workforce to remain in, or return to, employment, with demonstrable business benefits.

‘But we also need good public services – right across care and support, education and skills – to truly make the choice to work a reality for the UK’s carers. That’s why we welcome the creation and publication of this unique partnership agreement between employers and government. This Memorandum not only equips us to deal with the carers in today’s workforce but sets us on the path we need to take to support our ageing population tomorrow and beyond’.

She added:

‘The Memorandum creates a new model for action-based collaboration between employers and government on key social/labour market issues. Its launch today recognises that social and workforce issues are not separate, they are so interlinked that employers and government must act together if they want to recruit and retain talent in our national workforce and plan future economic resilience.

‘Creating economic opportunity out of demographic challenge, this Memorandum is a best practice model that can be adopted by other governments around the world to tackle what is a global demographic and workforce issue.’

Imelda Redmond CBE, Chief Executive, Carers UK said: ‘Carers UK warmly welcomes this unique agreement, where, for the first time, six Government departments have understood the significance of supporting carers in the workplace.  It is still a common occurrence that people fall out of work unnecessarily because of caring responsibilities.  A staggering one in six people[1] give up work to care for a relative or friend who becomes disabled, ill or frail not only at great personal cost, but also at significant cost to the economy.

‘Carers UK has been working with employers for many years to help them retain their staff, resulting in demonstrable business benefits.  Supporting carers in the workplace is not just about helping families to manage their daily lives but it is also about helping employers to retain talent in their workforce which is vital for a strong economy. This has been highlighted by research published last month[2] suggesting that greater support for carers could lead to additional earnings of between £750 million - £1.5 billion for family incomes, with extra revenue gained through tax and insurance.’

[1] Ipsos MORI research for Carers Rights Day (December 2009) Ipsos MORI surveyed 3946 adults aged 16 and over, 655 were current (426) or past (229) carers.

[2] The case for social care reform – the wider economic and social benefits (February 2010), University of Birmingham.

[1] Who Cares Wins: The Social and Business Benefits of Supporting Working Carers (2006) Carers UK and Centre for Social Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University.