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Responding to Skills for Care’s annual State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England published today (Thursday), Hugh Alderwick, Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said: 

‘Today’s report highlights the persistent workforce challenges facing social care in England and the urgent need for policy action to address them. Care workers are among the lowest paid in the country and around 1 in 5 live in poverty. The vacancy rate in social care fell between 2021/22 and 2022/23, but around 1 in 10 roles were still vacant last year – and the vacancy rate is higher than before the pandemic and up substantially compared to a decade ago. 

‘International recruitment is helping fill staff gaps, but is no replacement for the more fundamental policy action needed to improve pay and conditions for people working in social care. International recruitment must also be ethical and sustainable, yet care workers are being recruited from countries with severe worker shortages and the government’s own migration advisors have warned about risks of exploitation of potentially vulnerable migrant workers.

‘It’s encouraging to see Skills for Care are developing a new workforce strategy for social care, but improving jobs in social care and growing the workforce over the long term depends on sufficient investment and sustained policy action from government. Government's recent announcement to increase the National Living Wage will raise wages for the lowest paid care workers. But the social care system is already struggling to meet the costs of providing high quality care, so without additional government funding, this move risks piling further pressure on care providers and leaving people without the care they need.’

Notes to editors 

For further information about the Migration Advisory Committee’s concerns about the risk of exploitation of care workers, see here and here.

Media Contacts

Creina Lilburne - Health Foundation

Catriona Wilson - Skills for Care

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