Social care workforce

The Coalition Government's response to the 2008 financial crisis led to reductions in publicly funded social care. Central government grants to local authorities (responsible for social care) reduced by 26% in real terms between 2011/12 and 2014/15 (Ismail, 2014). It is important to look at how this affected the workforce.

Who employs the adult social care workforce?

The National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) collects information from care providers to understand the size and scope of the adult social care sector. This can include the types of care services provided, how much care provision there is and information on the workforce. For more information on this data please see 'about this data' below.

We can see that by far the largest sector of adult social care workers are employed by the private sector, accounting for 58%. The next largest group of workers are employed by the voluntary sector; this was 20% in 2014. The spread of workers employed by the different sectors has changed little since 2011.

What are the trends in publicly funded adult social care staff numbers?

The number of whole time equivalent council-employed adult social service jobs decreased by 23% after 2011 to 97,100 in 2015. Those providing direct care (e.g. care workers, support workers) make up almost half of the council-employed adult social service workforce. However, the number of WTE employed in direct care roles decreased by 31% Between 2011 and 2015.

There was a small increase in the number of staff employed in professional roles (e.g. social workers, occupational therapists) to 2013, but by 2015 2% of the 2011 workforce level had been lost.

Distribution of adult social service jobs by service group

The distribution of jobs in different service groups changed little between 2011 and 2016. Community jobs have always accounted for the largest proportion of jobs in adult social services in England. In 2016 the community jobs comprised 35.3% of all jobs. The next largest group was 'other', which was 21%. The smallest was the day group, which made up just 9% of jobs in 2016. For details of the specific roles that fall within each of the five service groups see 'About this data' at the bottom of the page.

Updated April 2017.

About this data

In 2012 and 2013 all 152 councils in England provided an NMDS-SC return, however the coverage for each individual data item varied. For more information on the coverage, completeness and methodology of this data, please see the following NHS digital webpage.

Main service groups:

- Residential - The main services included in this group are care homes with nursing, care only homes, sheltered housing and any other residential services.

- Domiciliary - This group includes all types of home care including domiciliary care services, domestic services and home help, meals on wheels, supported living, extra care housing services and any other domiciliary care services.

- Day - Day care and day services are the only main services included in this category

- Community - This category includes a range of services including social work and care management, community support and outreach, information and advice services, employment services, disability adaptations/assistive technology services, carers support and shared lives.

- Other - The majority of councils recorded their head office jobs under this category. The category also includes some healthcare services.


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