The growing adult social care sector and its skilled workforce contributes £50.3 billion to the English economy according to a new report published by Skills for Care.
Skills for care commissioned economic consultants KDNA to produce a detailed analysis of how that significant economic spend is made in communities across England.
‘The value of adult social care in England’ report argues that the best way to make adult social care sustainable in the long-term is to move away from payment for adult social care processes to payment based on better outcomes for people who draw on care and support services.
It argues that the skills and knowledge of the 1.5 million strong adult social care workforce is absolutely central to high quality, and that investing in the development of talented and productive care workers has significant benefits to the outcomes of people drawing on care and support as well wider benefits to the national economy.
The report says Skills for Care can help shape how to offer contracts that reward and value quality of care and the wellbeing outcomes of that support. This will allow payment of wages to care staff that will better represent the true value of the work they do to support people in our communities. Addressing this is important at a time when providers are reporting significant recruitment and retention challenges.
The report also analyses the workforce’s value to society and monetises some of these benefits, including improved wellbeing of carers and employment opportunities for carers which is calculated as up to £1.3bn and around £5.6 billion for working age adults. In total we estimate that these economic benefits are at least £7.9 billion over and above the economic value of £50.3 billion
During the pandemic the sector’s economic activity increased by 7.7% while other sectors saw their activity stall or shrink by up to 4% overall. This resulted in the adult social care contribution to the whole economy growing from 1.4% to 1.6%.
Any sustained growth in adult social care will boost local economies, creating jobs by attracting new recruits into rewarding careers in a growing sector and additional benefits via indirect and induced ‘multiplier’ effects. That economic growth would take place throughout England, but would have the greatest impact, and so support levelling up, in Northern and Midlands regions, where adult social care GVA is around 2% of total GVA compared to less than 1% in London and the South East.
Recommendation from the report say the sector needs to:
- create a better-defined career structure linked to training which is consistently invested in
- address pay differentiations between senior and entry-level care worker roles, linking to career structures
- recognise and reward the central role registered managers play in high-quality service delivery
- look at higher overall levels of pay to increase the competitiveness of the market enabling employers to attract and employ workers with the right values.
Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said: This report supports our vision of a fair and just society, where people can access the advice, care and support they need delivered by skilled and motivated workers to live their lives to the fullest.
Over the last year the 1.5m people who work in social care have gone above and beyond the call of duty to continue to support our families and people in all of our communities to live their lives, to do the things that they want and keep the relationships that are important to them. This report shows very clearly that they also make a significant and growing contribution to the national economy.
This report offers decision makers real insight into just how important that contribution will be to the nation’s economic recovery and offers ideas about what we can do to ensure we properly recognise the efforts of our workforce who have made such huge sacrifices during the pandemic.