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Will the health and social care sector be better off when the UK leaves the EU?


Vote Leave, Campaign to leave the EU

Britain Stronger In Europe, Campaign to remain in the EU

Poll: Will the health and social care sector be better off under Brexit?



To view the results of the poll, you need to vote!


With the UK free to make its own decisions, the care sector will be boosted financially with the Government able to give tax breaks to investors and zero rate VAT.

Some in the care sector have voiced concerns over how Brexit will further exacerbate the recruitment crisis with care homes and home care agencies already struggling to find enough care workers and nurses.

However MP Gisela Stuart and chairman of the Vote Leave campaign, believes that leaving the EU will actually help to solve this recruitment problem as she says: “We will take back control over immigration policy and end the discrimination against people coming to live and work here from outside the European Economic Area. That will mean we can bring a permanent end to the problem care providers have had hiring nursing and other staff from outside the EU.”

She also thinks that financially we will be better off as “we also get back control of the £350m that the European Union costs us each week. If we had withdrawn from the EU in 2008 this could have been enough money to avoid many if not all of the austerity cuts made to public services since then. Membership of the EU comes at a substantial cost and instead we can use this money to remove the black hole in social care budgets”.

Paul Ridout, a lawyer specialising in health and social care issues at Ridouts Lawyers, also strongly believes that leaving the EU will be positive for the health and social care sector.

He says: “Social care is having real financial problems and if the Government wants to help there is nothing it can do as it is all down to Brussels. The Government should be able to encourage venture capitalist companies to invest in care homes by giving them a tax break but Brussels says they can’t do that.

“Zero rated VAT would make a massive difference to care homes and would be a way of lessening the financial strains for the care sector. Yet at the moment, VAT is a matter for Europe.

“There are also irritating things about being in the EU such as employment law like time directives. If someone wants to make different rules about working times in different sectors, the Brussels bureaucracy prevents that.

“EU makes decisions and there is nothing we can do to lobby against them. Social care is UK driven and the UK should have the powers to be able to kick-start the sector.”

To read an indepth news analysis on the impact Brexit could have on the health and social care sector go to


The health and social care sector is heavily reliant on foreign workers. A fifth of the 1.5m care workers in the UK are foreign with the figure rising to a half in some cities, according to King's College London's Social Care Workforce Research Unit.

The fear is that without free movement within the EU and more restrictions on immigration, care homes and home care agencies will really struggle to recruit.

Public spending would be hit as well as workplace rights, according to James McGrory, Britain Stronger In Europe’s chief campaign spokesman, who claims that “if we left Europe, public spending would take a hit to the tune of £36bn – equivalent to a third of the NHS budget. That would mean deep cuts to public services, including the NHS. The Leave campaigns can’t be trusted on health and social care – leading Leave campaigners have consistently campaigned for cuts to public services and increased privatisation of the NHS.

“For those working in care, being in the EU means better protection for workplace rights, including shared maternity and paid holiday entitlement. Leaving Europe would be a leap in the dark that would put the care sector and the jobs it supports at risk.”

The Vote Leave campaign loudly proclaimed that Brexit will mean we will save £350m that we give to the EU every week. However leading campaigners such as Nigel Farage have now refused to commit to that figure, saying it was a "mistake" to promise that.

“As we have made clear, the UK’s contribution to the EU is paid after the application of the rebate. We have also pointed out that there are payments received by the UK public and private sectors that are relevant here.”

For those worried about disability rights, Steve Scown, chief executive of the charity Dimensions, points out that leaving the EU “would not automatically lead to exiting the European Convention of Human Rights. They are separate things. A requirement for membership of the EU is participation in the ECHR but not vice versa”.

“Individuals with disabilities who have had recourse to Europe to challenge British legislative and judicial decisions (think bedroom tax) would still have this power. For now.”

However when we leave the EU, the Government will then be able to withdraw from the ECHR if it wishes. Mr Scown questions whether “the UK disability voice is now loud enough to compel Government to enact the same level of anti-discrimination legislation we currently enjoy via the EU”.


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