Social care needs to fill more than 100,000 vacancies

A new report published by Skills for Care has found that the adult social care sector in England still needs to fill around 112,000 job vacancies on any given day.

The annual ‘The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report showed that there had been a slight reduction in job vacancies, but employers still needed to find thousands of new workers.

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said that the sector desperately needs to attract more new recruits who have the ‘right values’ to fill posts that offer long term careers ‘where you can make a difference in people’s lives every single day’.

Adult social care is a growing sector that, in 2019/20, comprised of around 18,200 organisations across 38,000 care-providing locations and a workforce of around 1.52 million compared to around 1.4 million NHS workers. The sector was estimated to contribute £41.2 billion per annum to the economy in England, which is worth more than the oil industry and the culture sector.

Following a long-drawn out process, the UK will adopt a points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021, but care workers have not been listed as an eligible occupation on the ‘Skilled Workers’ route. Therefore care workers will not be able to immigrate into the UK to take up these roles from the start of next year.

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Social care makes an incredibly valuable contribution in supporting people to live the lives they want to lead, as well to wider society and the economy, which this report shows. This has been highlighted even further by the immense efforts of the care workforce during the pandemic.

“Despite the extraordinary endeavours of all those who work in this skilled profession, we still face a huge recruitment and retention crisis in social care, with more than 100,000 vacancies available on any given day and extremely high turnover rates. Urgent action is needed for the care workforce including on pay, professionalisation, skills and training. We look forward to working with Skills for Care to help address this.

“The upcoming Spending Review must provide councils with the extra funding they need to help shore up social care ahead of winter and get through the second wave of Covid-19, while also using this as the basis for future reform of social care to place it on a long-term, sustainable footing.”

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care, responded: “Care staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure our loved ones are properly looked after during this pandemic. But even before the virus stuck, social care services were stretched to breaking point with high turnover and vacancy rates and staff that are all too often undervalued and underpaid.

“Unless Ministers take urgent action, these problems will only get worse. We need a long term plan for the care workforce as part of wider reforms to fix the crisis in social care – something the Prime Minister has promised time and time again, but so far completely failed to deliver.”