England’s social care sector contributed £50.3bn to economy last year – up 7.7% over pandemic

England’s social care sector boosted the economy by at least £50.3 billion over the last financial year, according to new analysis.

The sector’s economic activity grew by 7.7% during the pandemic while other industries stagnated or shrank, according to a report by Skills for Care.

The workforce body commissioned economic consultants KDNA to analyse the value of the adult care sector.

Between 2020 and 2021 it contributed £50.3 billion to the economy, the analysis found, a total which also includes indirect economic benefits.

But the findings also highlighted the wider benefits to society which cannot be monetised.

The report, The Value Of Adult Social Care In England, said the market is fragile, cannot meet current demand and wages are low.

It said local authorities are being forced to fund care only for people with the highest levels of need at minimal prices, leading to rising levels of unmet need.

Future investment in the sector will “automatically support” the Government’s levelling up agenda, it argues.

This is because its economic contribution is spread across the country and forms a higher share of economic activity in poorer areas.

The report recommends that payments for care should be focused around people’s outcomes.

Skills for Care chief executive Oonagh Smyth said: “Over the last year the 1.5 million people who work in social care have gone above and beyond the call of duty to continue to support our families and people in all our communities to live their lives, to do the things that they want and keep the relationships that are important to them.

“This report shows very clearly that they also make a significant and growing contribution to the national economy.

“This report offers decision-makers real insight into just how important that contribution will be to the nation’s economic recovery and offers ideas about what we can do to ensure we properly recognise the efforts of our workforce who have made such huge sacrifices during the pandemic.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We owe so much to the care workers of this country, who labour day in, day out to support millions of older and disabled people to live good lives. I hope this timely report from Skills For Care encourages everyone to give the care workforce the appreciation and credit they deserve.

“Older people often tell us how grateful they are for the help they receive from care staff, so it’s good to see this report tackling head on the myth that care work is unskilled and not worth very much. To many older people it’s worth the world, and they simply could not continue to function without it.”

Stephen Chandler, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “Far from being a burden on the economy, social care is a powerful engine of growth fuelling local economies and providing employment opportunities in every corner of the country. It can play a key role in the Government’s levelling-up project.

“We are urging the Chancellor to make a major investment in social care in his forthcoming budget and in the spending review that will follow. This research shows how that would reap dividends while extending care and support to millions of disabled and older people who need it to live their lives more fully.”

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