Jon Cruddas MP recently visited Nicholls & Clarke as part of the Builders Merchants Federation’s industry and parliamentary programme, to see the merchant’s approach to adapting housing so that elderly and disabled people can remain at home, rather than be in hospital.

Welcoming Mr Cruddas was Stephen Forbes, deputy chairman of Nicholls & Clarke, and David Forbes, chief executive, who toured the six-acre site with Mr Cruddas to show him the group’s operation, including a complete range of accessible bathrooms, sanitaryware, showering solutions and wet rooms.

David Forbes outlined how the business has developed national expertise in bathing and showering solutions for the elderly and disabled through its N&C Phlexicare brand.

Mr Cruddas remarked: “I was delighted to visit Nicholls & Clarke in my constituency and learn of their contribution to the built environment – both as a manufacturer and an independent builders’ merchant.

“Stephen, David Forbes and the team are to be applauded for their efforts. They are a good indicator of the state of the economy. It was good to hear from a local firm about their future plans.”

In addition to being MP for Dagenham, Mr Cruddas is also the Labour Party’s Policy Review

Co-ordinator. With an ageing population and increasing pressure on the NHS and social care budgets, he said it was better to find ways for constituents to try to lead independent lives, rather than having to stay in hospital or day care centres.

He continued: “Today was useful for me because I saw, at first hand, the role that firms like Nicholls & Clarke play in wider social policy. The assisted and independent living solutions I saw will help inform the thinking on big ticket policy like healthcare that the next Labour Government must get right.

“As a country, we spend billions of pounds keeping vulnerable people in hospital, when they should be discharged. Spending a few thousand pounds on adaptations to enable them to go home, that saves thousands of pounds per year in social care costs, has to be the way forward.”

Concluding the MP’s visit, David Forbes added: “We were grateful for the time Jon Cruddas spent with us to learn about our business and the building materials’ supply chain. Nicholls & Clarke has made sanitaryware and washrooms for a very long time and we look forward to celebrating our 140th anniversary later this year.

“With a General Election approaching, we want politicians in all parties to fully understand what businesses like ours offer to support vulnerable people to live independently in their own home.”