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Care England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care in England, has today expressed concern at the findings of Skills for Care’s latest workforce report and called on Government to invest the necessary resources to bring adult social care’s sustained workforce crisis to an end.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:

“Skills for Care’s latest figures illustrate that the adult social care workforce is in sustained crisis, characterised by high vacancies, high levels of staff attrition and very little sign of letting up. While the slight drop in vacancies to 152,000 from 164,000 the previous year is a small step in the right direction, it is by no means a cause for celebration for a sector that remains in a critical state. The drop in vacancies was driven, in large part, by a substantial increase in international recruits, underscoring the vital contribution that overseas staff make to our sector. This does not, however, represent a sustainable long-term solution to the staffing crisis facing adult social care, nor does it address the key issue facing providers when recruiting and retaining domestic staff – low pay. Chronic underfunding by central Government has resulted in nine out of the ten largest supermarkets in the UK paying wages higher than the average for a social care worker, according to the King’s fund. This must be addressed as a matter of priority through a fully-funded, long-term adult social care workforce strategy that sets out sustainable recruitment and retention pathways for both domestic and international recruits.”

Skills for Care’s annual report entitled ‘The size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ is an overview of the status of the adult social care workforce.

The 2022/23 figures, published on 12 July 2023, show a decrease in the vacancy rate to 9.9% (152,000 vacant posts) from 10.6% (164,000 vacant posts) last year. This was driven largely by international recruitment, with around 70,000 staff recruited from abroad into direct care-providing roles after adult social care was added to the Shortage Occupation List in February 2022.

The total number of filled posts in adult social care in 2022/23 was estimated at 1.635 million, up 20,000 from 1.615 million last year. These posts were filled by 1.52 million people, representing 5.2% of the total workforce in England and more than the 1.3 million employed by the NHS.

Martin Green continues:

Despite the Minister for Social Care’s enthusiasm about these new figures, the headline reduction in overall vacancies masks a habitual failure by Government to take meaningful action to address the challenges faced by the adult social care workforce. The sector’s vacancy rate of 9.9% remains higher than that in the NHS (8%) and nearly three-times greater than the average for other sectors combined (3.4%). The recent publication of the NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan illustrates that long-term workforce planning is possible and adult social care is crying out for an equivalent to help ease staffing pressures. Complacency on the part of Government in light of Skills for Care’s newest figures would drive an already underfunded and undervalued sector further into the ground. Instead, they must take concerted action to deliver a long-term workforce strategy that finally sees care workers paid fairly at a level commensurate for the work they do and on par with colleagues in the NHS.”