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New report on the state of the adult social care workforce released

Posted on 27/09/2017

The adult social care workforce provides 1.58 million jobs in England and contributes an estimated £41.8 billion every year into the English economy, a new report reveals.

The ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England 2017’ report produced by Skills for Care is an annual summary of key information including the size and shape of the adult social care workforce, its employees and employers, recruitment and retention, demographics, pay and more. As the social care workforce is so important to both the economy and in providing essential services to our ever-growing population with increasing needs, this report helps to improve current social care services and plan for the future.

Overview of the workforce

It shows that the adult social care workforce continues to grow, and it has increased by 19% since 2009, though the rate of growth has slowed in more recent years. The data looked at 1.34 million jobs within the local authority and independent sectors in 2016/2017 to give a good overview of the demographics of those working in these kinds of jobs. It is overwhelming a female-orientated profession, with just 18% of the roles taken by men. 83% of the workers are British, with the rest made up of both EU and non-EU nationals. There are approximately 90,000 jobs available at any one time, which shows the scale of the workforce’s shortage and the need to attract more people into the sector.

Things are improving on the pay front, particularly since the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016. A care worker’s pay in the independent sector from April 2016 to March 2017 is recorded as £7.76 per hour, up from £6.98 in 2011/2012. Around 24% of the total workforce are employed on zero-hour contracts, which may sound high but it is not growing and the figure has stayed stable over the last few years.

Paid carers

Much of the data in the report does not include those who work in the NHS (as detailed workforce information is not available) or those who use direct payments to employ their own care and support staff. However, the report does have a dedicated section exploring the role of personal assistants, another term commonly used for paid carers.

Direct payments enable people to employ or contract with their own care workers. Skills for Care estimates that in 2016, approximately 70,000 of the 235,000 adults and older people receiving a direct payment employed their own paid carer. The report acknowledges that there is little workforce data surrounding the role of the personal assistant or paid carer, so Skills for Care undertook a survey specifically in this area to enable some statistics to be explored. However, the report only focuses on those paid carers who are employed directly by an individual (as opposed to a self-employed paid carer that they may contract with), and includes both those who use direct payments as well as self-funders.

It found that the average wage was £9.10 per hour, which is higher than that of a care worker. However, employed personal assistants were less likely to have full-time contracts, with a majority having part-time hours. There are also lower turnover rates and less vacancies at any one time. It is interesting to note that of those surveyed, over half found it difficult to recruit a new paid carer, with the main problems cited as finding someone who could meet the specific criteria. High retention rates though suggest that once the right person is found, they stay in the job longer, which benefits both employer and employee.

You can read the full report on the Skills for Care website.

Find out more about employing your own paid carer in our dedicated section

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