The size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England
Published July 2022 (data correct as at 2021/22)
Next update due: July 2023
This page provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England. Please note that a report is no longer published, however this information will form a chapter within in ‘The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ published in October 2022.
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- The total number of posts in adult social care in England (including filled posts and staff vacancies) was 1.79m as at 2021/22 (this was 0.3% higher than in 2020/21).
- The number of filled posts was estimated at 1.62 million and the number of vacant posts was 165,000.
- The number of filled posts has decreased by around 3% (50,000) between 2020/21 and 2021/22; the only annual decrease since records began in 2012/13.
- Over the same period the number of vacant posts has increased (by 55,000 or 52%) which shows that the decrease in filled posts is a result of recruitment and retention difficulties rather than a decrease in demand for care staff.
- The decrease in filled posts and corresponding increase in vacancies across adult social care comes as the wider economy has reopened following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) filled posts was estimated at 1.17 million and the number of people working in adult social care was estimated at 1.50 million.
- An estimated 17,900 organisations were involved in providing or organising adult social care in England as at 2021/22. Those services were delivered in an estimated 39,000 establishments.
Changes in the previous 12 months (since 2020/21)
- Between 2020/21 and 2021/22 the majority of the decrease in filled posts was in the independent sector (down by 45,000). Filled posts in local authorities remained broadly the same (up by around 1,000).
- In residential services, the number of filled posts fell by 13,000 in care only homes (4%) and 15,000 in care homes with nursing (5%).
- For non-residential services, the number of filled posts fell by 19,000 (3%).
- In terms of job roles, the majority of the decrease in filled posts was for direct care providing roles (down 55,000 and 4%). Registered nurse filled posts also decreased by 4.5% (1,600 posts).
Longer term trends (since 2012/13)
- Since 2012/13, the number of filled posts in adult social care has increased by 120,000 (8%)
- Over the same period, the workforce has moved away from the local authority sector (a decrease of 24%, or 36,000) and towards the independent sector (an increase of 12%, or 135,000).
- The number of filled posts in domiciliary services increased at a faster rate between 2012/13 and 2021/22 (an increase of 120,000 and 27%) than filled posts in residential services which are now at a similar level to 2012/13 after decreasing by 4% in the previous 12 months.
- Registered nurses were one of the only job roles in adult social care to see a significant decrease over the period (down 18,000 filled posts or 36% since 2012/13).
- If the adult social care workforce grows proportionally to the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population then the number of posts in adult social care will increase by 27% (480,000 posts) to around 2.27 million filled posts by 2035.
Monthly tracking of vacancies, total staff, occupancy rates and sickness is published here.
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