Adult social care workforce growing

August 6, 2019

The adult social care workforce in England is growing, according to Skills for Care's most recent report.

The Size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, 2019 report used data from the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) supplied by employers. It shows that there are now 1.49 million people working in the adult social care sector and that there has been a 22% growth in the total number of adult social care jobs since 2009.

The sector's contribution to society and people is underlined in the report, with an estimated 18,500 organisations involved in providing or organising adult social care in England. These services are delivered across an estimated 39,000 establishments, says Skills for Care.

As well as providing evidence that the adult social care workforce is growing, the report showed that around 237,000 adults, older people and carers received direct payments from councils' social services departments in 2017/2018, and it is estimated that approximately 31% of these recipients were employing their own staff.

Skills for Care Interim Chief Executive, Andy Tilden said, 'There is rightly a very live debate about the future of adult social care, and the robust data in this report allows us to make decisions about what future service delivery might look like based on what we know rather than gut feelings.

'The report does once again show the obvious contribution our growing workforce makes supporting people to live the lives they want, but also that our sector is now a key part of our national economy. As we estimate we will need to fill another 580,000 job roles by 2035, that contribution is only going to grow, so we need to start thinking about how that is factored into economic planning locally and nationally.'

Other key findings include:

  • The number of adult social care jobs in England as at 2018 was estimated at 1.62 million.
  • The number of adult social care jobs was estimated to have increased by around 1.2% (19,000 jobs) between 2017 and 2018.
  • Since 2009 the number of adult social care jobs has increased by 22% (290,000 jobs).
  • The rate of increase for adult social care jobs has slowed – between 2014 and 2018 the workforce grew by around 16,000 jobs per year compared to an average increase of 45,000 per year between 2009 and 2014.
  • The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs was estimated at 1.13 million.
  • Since 2009, the workforce has continued to shift away from local authority jobs (a decrease of 37%, or 65,000 jobs) and towards independent sector jobs (an increase of 30%, or 290,000 jobs).
  • The number of jobs within independent sector care homes with nursing increased between 2017 and 2018 by 2% to 295,000 jobs. This figure had, however, decreased by 5,000 jobs between 2016 and 2017.
  • Registered nurses were one of the only jobs in adult social care to see a significant decrease, down 10,500, or 20%, since 2012.

Julie Ogley, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said, 'It is great news that the adult social care workforce in England continues to grow and this report is very helpful in setting this out. Our workforce helps people live the lives they want, providing valued and personalised care, as well as contributing greatly to our national economy. But recruiting and retaining these skilled and invaluable staff is impossible whilst the prevailing approach is that they are minimum wage staff and not recognised as valued for immigration purposes.

As England’s ageing and disabled population grows and as needs become more complex, the need for a sustainable, long-term plan, and a systematic change in the way we approach adult social care has never been clearer.

'The Skills for Care report is a welcomed addition to the debate on the future of adult social care, one that demonstrates how increasing funding and planning locally and nationally, benefits people receiving care, providing care, and the nation as a whole.'

Read the full report or visit the Skills for Care website for more information.

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