Outsourcing group Mitie has stepped into the UK home care arena by snapping up Enara for £110.8 million.

Enara is currently the fourth largest provider of home care services in the UK, and the move gives Mitie "a scalable platform to compete in the growing outsourced health and social care sector".

The ageing population and difficult economic climate - including a savings drive which could hit £50 billion by 2020 - are driving traditionally expensive hospital/residential care further into the community.

The provision of home care is "increasingly being outsourced by local councils and health authorities to the private sector, generating significant opportunities for growth," Mitie said.

“At the moment we’re looking at a range of healthcare services and we think the homecare market provides a good platform for growth,” said chief executive Ruby McGregor-Smith, according to the Financial Times, and she said the firm has “big aspirations in healthcare eventually.”

Working with the NHS

Mitie said it intends to support the public provision of integrated healthcare by working with the NHS and local authorities to combine community-based rehabilitation, elderly and long-term care with social care functions, and has set up a dedicated Health Advisory Board to develop the strategic direction of its healthcare offering. 

Enara has been providing home care in the UK since 1996, and is on track to rake in sales of £93 million and generate profit of £10.1 million (before amortisation) for the year ending March 31, 2013.

Mitie reportedly beat Serco to the post in winning the bid for Enara, which provides services at home to more than 100,000 people in South-East England.

Just this month, Serco began delivering community health services in Suffolk, in another illustration of the growing trend of outsourcing community care to the private sector.