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.
The charity 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 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, Skills for Care estimates 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%.
The report argues that sustained growth in social care will boost local economies and support the government’s goal of ‘levelling up’ as the sector’s gross value added (GVA) is 2% of total GVA in the north and Midlands compared to less than 1% in London and the South East.
It states 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.
Skills for Care believes this shift to outcomes payment will allow care staff’s wages to better represent the true value of work they do to support people in the community.
The report recommends that 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; and 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 (pictured) said: “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 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.”
Stephen Chandler, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “Far from being a burden on the economy, social care is a powerful engine of growth fuelling local economies and providing employment opportunities in every corner of the country. It can play a key role in the government’s levelling-up project.
“We are urging the Chancellor to make a major investment in social care in his forthcoming budget and in the spending review that will follow. This research shows how that would reap dividends while extending care and support to millions of disabled and older people who need it to live their lives more fully.”