England’s adult social care workforce has majorly shrunk every year over the past five years, with the number of jobs dropping by a staggering 25% overall since 2011, figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have shown.
A new report summarising workforce trends in the struggling sector shows the number of jobs fell by nearly 40,000 concerning council-based services exclusively. The organisation’s figures also revealed a consecutive year-on-year drop of around 10,000 jobs since 2011.
Between 2014 and 2015 specifically, around two-thirds of councils (101 of 152) reduced the number of people working directly for them, with the majority shrinking staffing by over 5%.
The top reason for the dwindling workforces was restructure, which 50 out of the 75 responding councils cited as a major factor in cutting around 8,500 jobs. This was followed by outsourcing, cited by 21 councils for almost 6,000 jobs, and staff redundancies, accounting for nearly 3,000 jobs. Stephen Jobling, responsible statistician for the HSCIC report, said: “Today’s report shows that the number of jobs in adult social services based in councils continues to fall. Compared to the previous year, almost half of councils (65 of 152, or 43%) saw a reduction of more than 5% of social care jobs in 2015. For some councils though, the picture is somewhat different, with 27 councils seeing council-based jobs increase by more than 5%.
“I hope that the information within the report will be useful to both councils and other organisations who provide adult social services on behalf of councils to those who need care and support.”
In a statement sent to PSE, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s community wellbeing spokesperson, said significant pressures on councils, despite attempts to protect frontline staff, meant overall staffing numbers had dropped by around 40% since 2010-11. She argued that the difference between the overall figure and the 25% reduction in the care workforce proved “councils have done their best to minimise the impact of these funding cuts”.
“Councils will have focused on reconfiguring teams to ensure service stability and will have sought to retain the most experienced staff. Some of the jobs lost in adult social care will have been subject to further outsourcing and not lost entirely,” Seccombe added.
“While recent measures announced for social care will go some way to addressing the problems facing adult social care funding, concerns remain that future years will still be extremely challenging, particularly the next two.”
She also stressed the need for adequate funding going forward given councils’ duties under the Care Act, but acknowledged that there are opportunities presented by integration and devolution to “provide services in a different way”.
The president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Ray James, agreed that today’s figures are the “inevitable consequence” of funding cuts of £4.6bn over the last five years, despite “ever increasing need” for care services.
Today’s statistics also highlighted the stark and longstanding gender imbalance in the profession, with the vast majority (82%) of the jobs occupied by female workers, an estimation which remains unchanged since 2011.
Care England had already criticised this in September, arguing that more male carers are needed to attend to the new and changing demands of an ageing male population.
Its chief executive, Professor Martin Green, told BBC Radio 4 at the time that the government should be “much more systematic” in its approach to recruit men into frontline elderly care roles, making sure this push for gender diversity starts at school.
He added: “We have an ageing population and a lot of people who receive care into old age now are men. The majority of carers are women. When it comes to personal care in particular, some men prefer this to be done by a male rather than female.”