Up to 90,000 social care workers needed immediately to meet manifesto pledges

New analysis by the Nuffield Trust reveals that up to 90,000 home care workers for the over 65s are needed immediately if the main parties' manifesto pledges to expand and reform social care are to be met.

Press release

Published: 28/11/2019

New analysis reveals that up to 90,000 home care workers for the over 65s are needed immediately if the main parties’ manifesto pledges to expand and reform social care are to be met.

In a new briefing the Nuffield Trust finds that there are around 165,000 over 65s in England who need help at home with three or more basic daily activities like getting dressed, washing and eating, but are not currently receiving it from professionals, family or friends. [1]

The Nuffield Trust says that expanding social care to this group is implicit in both the Labour party’s pledge for free personal care for over 65s and the Conservative party’s principle to ‘give every person the dignity and security that they deserve’, despite the lack of concrete proposals in the latter’s manifesto. [2]

Researchers took the average number of hours of home care that people currently receive and calculated the number of hours a full time worker would need to deliver care for the 165,000 over 65s not currently receiving care. This revealed that just providing one hour of care per day to this group would require a minimum of 48,000 home care workers, rising to just under 90,000 home care workers for two hours of care a day.

It also argues that politicians must urgently put in place plans to expand and retain the care workforce by:

  • Making drastic improvements to pay, working conditions and training opportunities in order to make care work an attractive career
  • Ensuring any future migration system does not restrict social care staff from entering the country to work after Brexit and instead ensures government can actively attract the staff the sector so badly needs
  • Helping the millions of people who care for friends and family, by promoting policies that support people financially and balancing work with caring for an older or disabled relative.

The briefing also says that a radical overhaul of the way social care is funded is needed to protect people against catastrophic costs and provide a sustainable social care system.

Commenting on the briefing, Natasha Curry, Deputy Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust said:

“Despite the extremely disappointing lack of concrete proposals to pay for social care in the Conservative manifesto, it is clear that all parties quite rightly wish to expand the current paltry system. Caring for people who are currently struggling with no support will take time, money and - crucially - thousands more home care workers.

“We must be prepared to hire and hold on to much-needed social care workers from home and abroad - and that means being open to so-called ‘low-skilled migration’. Without doing this it will be impossible to expand social care to those who need it.

“Whoever is Prime Minister on 13th December needs to grasp the nettle and put forward clear proposals for funding and staffing social care if thousands of people are not to continue to suffer.”

Notes to editors

  1. This has been calculated using the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing (2016/17) which identifies people over 50 who need help with 3+ activities of daily living who are currently receiving no help from professionals or family/friends. Nuffield Trust researchers used this data to estimate the number of people over 65 in this situation. Researchers used the average number of hours of homecare received by individual service users and the average number of local authority-commissioned hours per person as calculated by PSSRU (2018)
  2. The Liberal Democrats have also said in their manifesto that “more than a million people are unable to get the care they need.”
  3. The briefing, Social care: The action we need, can be found here
  4. You can read our analysis of the manifestos so far on our website here and read our full facts and figures slide pack here.
  5. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.

For queries or to arrange an interview please contact the Nuffield Trust press office on 0207 462 0555 / 0207 462 0538 or email Kirsty.ridyard@nuffieldtrust.org.uk / mark.dayan@nuffieldtrust.org.uk 

Out of hours contact is: 07780 475571