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The Sector Pulse Check is annual report by learning disability charity Hft and Care England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care in England. The publication analyses the financial health and workforce of adult social care , providing an important benchmark for the nature and scale of challenges facing the sector.

The findings in the 2023 Sector Pulse Check report illustrate how the adult social care sector is on a precipice. Download the full report below.

Key cost pressures

Our research highlights how the current approach to adult social care funding simply isn’t working; the sector remains in a sustained crisis. In 2023, 40% of providers reported being in deficit, almost the same as in 2022.

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Impact of cost pressures

In the face of growing demand for support, this leaves some of the most vulnerable in society at risk of not being able to access the care and support they need, and has a knock-on impact for wider society, families, communities and the NHS.

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Government intervention

Government investment in the sector, including £7.5bn announced at the 2022 Autumn Statement, made little difference to providers over the past year.

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Workforce challenges

Financial pressures were compounded by workforce challenges in 2023. Despite a rise in international recruitment, the adult social care workforce remains in a deep-rooted and systemic crisis. Low pay and poor perceptions of social care as a career remain key, unaddressed challenges and staffing shortages are forcing providers to take drastic action, with implications for financial viability and the delivery of care.

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Next steps for adult social care

While the report illustrates many challenges, we are filled with hope for a better future – the adult social care sector is brimming with talent, ambition and enthusiasm. The report therefore sets out pragmatic recommendations to relieve key workforce and financial pressures in the immediate term. These include:

  • Reforming VAT
  • Introducing national commissioning standards
  • Introducing a national approach to adult social care representation on Integrated Care Boards

We also recognise that in the longer term, our sector needs root and branch reform and we must continue to push for this to ensure adult social care can deliver at its best. In light of this, our report sets out ambitions which we know will take additional time, political capital and finances, including the establishment of a long-term funding settlement and the publication of a long-term workforce plan for adult social care.

If you have any questions or queries regarding the Sector Pulse Check 2023 report, please contact ibishop@carengland.org.uk.