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Sector Information

Most of the care provided for children, young people, adults and families in the UK is provided informally and usually for no financial reward by family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and unpaid volunteers. The social care sector provides care services for every community in the UK. Most of the services provided by the sector are delivered by the independent sector. The social care sector comprises two sub-sectors:

  • Adult social care – with a workforce of nearly 1.5 million, accounting for 5% of England’s workforce, and 38,000 employers
  • Children and young people – with an estimated workforce of 2.7 million

Skills for Care and Development is the Sector Skills Council for those working in the social care, children, early years and young people’s sector.

Public and private expenditure within the sector is over £30 billion. The total value of the education, health and social work sector to the UK is around £161.7 billion per annum in 2007 or 13% of National Gross Value Added . Growth in GVA for the three sectors was broadly in line with the whole economy at about 5.1% (compared with 5.5% growth overall).

Sources: Skills for Care and Development AACS LMI report 2010, UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010 and Labour Market Themes & Trends 2010

[N.B. Following the change of Government on 11 May, all statutory guidance and legislation referred to here continues to reflect the current legal position unless indicated otherwise, but this document may not reflect Government policy.]

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Social care organisations

Local authorities and other public bodies commission much of publicly funded social care, often from voluntary and commercial organisations. This includes places in residential care homes, respite care and sheltered housing. But the majority of the services they commission are to enable people to live in their own homes and maintain their independence. Importantly, service users are increasingly taking responsibility for commissioning services themselves through direct payments. Local authorities are also responsible for ensuring effective early years education and childcare is available at local level.

In 2008, there were, excluding public sector organisations, 35,680 businesses within the sector, of which:

  • 28,865 were private sector (commercial)
  • 7,715 charitable/not for profit

This probably under-represents the actual number of smaller businesses and organisations providing services in the sector, particularly those in the charitable/not-for-profit sector providing non-residential services.

Key statistics:

  • 60% of businesses (60%) in the sector employ fewer than 11 workers and 93% fewer than 50.
  • Since 2003, most of the 8,500 new businesses employ fewer than 10 workers.
  • The sector accounts for around 8% of all businesses with between 11 and 49 workers.
  • Approximately 9,000 businesses provide residential care and 27,000 enterprises, provide non-residential services.
  • The long term trend in service provision in has been away from residential care and the share of businesses providing residential care has fallen from 37.7% in 2003.
  • Most of the growth in our sector has been in non-residential care and amongst charitable/not-for-profit businesses.

Sources: UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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Employment

The social care workforce includes a higher proportion of people working part-time, 37.6% of the workforce compared with 25.2% across all sectors. This includes a higher proportion of men working part-time (16.8% of male employees and 27.1% of the self-employed) in comparison with the cross-sector average (11.3% of male employees and 15.2% of male self-employed workers).

Since 2002, part-time employment increased by 17,000 workers or just 3% compared with 2002. The number of full-time workers has increased by 164,000 or about 23%.

Overall, 7.3% of the sector workforce is estimated to be self-employed, less than the all sector average of 13.16%. The proportion of self-employed workers within the sector has fallen from 8.2% in 2002.

There may be more than 5 million volunteers in the children’s workforce in England. The greatest concentrations of volunteers are in sport and recreation (3.40 million), the outdoors (1.15 million) and the youth voluntary sector (0.52 million). There are a further 250,000 volunteers estimated to be working within the early years, childcare and children’s social care in England. There also were 13,000 volunteers and voluntary workers in independent adult social care in 2006/07.

Sources: UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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Employment trends

The sector workforce grew by 181,000 between 2002 and 2008 or by an average of 2.4% per annum. It is estimated that the sector will need a minimum of 2 million workers by 2025. However, the projections predict a 50% increase will be required in a relatively short space of time. Occupations experiencing the most growth between 1987 and 2017 will be professional and personal service occupations.

Employment trends for adult services, in particular adult social care, will reflect changes in population, social trends and government policy. Population projections forecast that the demand for social care will increase dramatically in the next twenty years. For example, the total number of people aged eighty years and over is projected to rise from 1.3 million in 2008 to 3.2 million by 2033. Demand for services may also rise faster depending upon social trends, for example if fewer older people are able to continue to receive care and support from a partner, from family or friends.

Despite recent employment growth, the increase in jobs in the sector may be slower or may even fall as a result of the recent recession and anticipated restrictions upon public spending. Nevertheless the number of personal assistants and other staff providing self-directed care is likely to continue to increase, with these roles rising as a proportion of the workforce, from 8% in 2006 to a forecasted 29% in 2025.

Numbers of care and support workers and other direct care providing roles are expected to increase less rapidly. Numbers of professional workers (social workers, occupational therapists, nurses and others) are also forecast to increase, but many of these will be nurses in residential settings. An increase in the number of professionals in community services, which includes council assessment, commissioning and care management activities, is also expected.

Employment trends for early years, children and young people’s services will also partly reflect changes in population, social trends and government policy. The total number of children aged under five years is projected to rise from 3.7 million in 2008 to just over 3.9 million in 2018. Demand for services may rise faster depending upon social trends, such as an increase in the number of lone parent households. However, employment growth is likely to decrease, as a result of the recent recession and anticipated restrictions upon public spending.

The number of personal assistants and other staff providing self-directed care will rapidly increase from 8% of the workforce in 2006 to 29% in 2025. Numbers of care and support workers and other direct care providing roles increase less rapidly. Numbers of professional workers (social workers, occupational therapists, nurses and others) are forecast to increase from 95,000 to 126,000 over the period, but half of these will be nurses in residential settings. The increase in numbers of professionals in community services, which includes council assessment, commissioning and care management activities, is modest from 40,000 to 51,000.

Sources: Skills for Care and Development AACS LMI report 2010 and UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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Current and future skill needs

The current skills needs identified across the UK are:

  • Leadership and management, including professional management capability
  • Capacity building and managing transitions arising from the changing service delivery models including the need for commissioning skills
  • Achievement of gateway qualifications to meet regulatory frameworks and CPD to support re-registration
  • Development of specialist expertise
  • Skills to work flexibly in integrated service models and partnership and shared learning
  • A need for learners to have improved and simplified access to appropriate qualifications that are demand-led

Future skills needs are:

  • Information Communication Technologies skills, such as assistive technology, which will provide a greater role in enabling service users to remain at home.
  • Increasing focus on commissioning, procurement and negotiation skills as the role of Local Authorities continues to change. There will also be skills needs for those service users who commission and pay for their own service provision.
  • Changes in service provision will also require the workforce to have the skills to work in multidisciplinary and inter professional teams, including leadership and management.
  • The different requirements arising from the age profile of the workforce and the needs of increasing numbers of migrant workers (due to recruitment difficulties).

Source: UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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Recruitment and retention

Whilst the impact of the recession may have eased recruitment difficulties for some employers, others continue to report shortages of skilled staff in some areas and specialisms.

Local authorities continue to experience significant difficulties in recruiting and retaining experienced social workers in some parts of the UK. 72% of employers report difficulty recruiting children’s social workers and 60% report retention difficulties.

The number reporting difficulties in recruiting adult social workers had increased to 46% for recruitment and 28% for retention problems.

While the number of sector vacancies has decreased, the number of social worker and Housing and welfare officer vacancies reported to Jobcentre Plus increased during 2008/09 compared with 2007/08.

Recruitment rates fell in 2008 for all types of childcare provider except full day care, where the recruitment rate had increased to 42%.

The Department for Health and the Department for Work and Pensions have launched a £75 million “CareFirst” initiative to get 50,000 unemployed young people into social care jobs across Britain.

Sources: UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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Future drivers in the sector

  • A growing and an ageing population – The number of children aged under 16 is projected to increase to 12.2 million by 2018 and to nearly 12.8 million by 2033. The UK also has an ageing population; people aged 85 and over are projected to increase to 1.8 million by 2018 and to 3.3 million by 2033, more than doubling over twenty-five years. This means there will be a greater demand for services.
  • An expanding workforce – Eemployment in the sector grew by just over 2% between 1997 and 2007. Future growth in employment is forecast to be 1% for 2007-2017. There will be approximately 128,000 extra jobs in the sector by 2017 (in addition to the 525,000 people needed to replace those retiring and leaving the sector).
  • Cost pressures and inflation – The 2009 Pre-Budget Report included an additional 0.5% increase in employee, employer and self-employed rates of national insurance contributions to be introduced from April 2010. This has increased staffing costs.
  • National policy, regulation and registration – There remains a broad consensus across the UK about direct payments/self directed support and the personalisation of services. Similarly, there is continued agreement about the importance of regulation and inspection in driving up standards of care and improving outcomes for services users. However, the framework for workforce regulation and registration is evolving in each of the four nations and this is likely to create new needs for workforce development.
  • Impact of the recession – In the short term, the recent economic recession and continuing high levels of unemployment are likely to lead to increased demand for social work and care services. This is likely to impact upon services for adults, but also services for children, young people and families. There is also a risk that the recession will contribute to an increase in poverty, disproportionately affecting vulnerable people and disadvantaged communities.

Source: UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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