Institute for Public Policy Research, December 2018
Adult social care is an essential public service and a growing part of our economy. However, the social care system in England faces a workforce crisis which is set to grow in the coming years; by 2028, we estimate there will be a shortage of over 400,000 workers in social care.
The challenges of recruiting and retaining workers in the sector is inextricably linked to low pay and poor working conditions. This is itself related to the under-funding of social care and a commissioning and delivery model based on cost not quality. Providers have competed by driving down pay and conditions, and they have faced little resistance given the limited bargaining power of the workforce and the limited enforcement of employment rights. These factors are combining to create a social care workforce crisis.
The solution is a sustainable long-term funding settlement for social care and a transformation of the social care workforce model. This should be based on the establishment of decent pay and terms and conditions through sectoral collective bargaining, and a professionalisation of the social care workforce. These measures would help ensure high-quality work for care workers, and high-quality care for those who need it.
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