NAO report highlights

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The National Audit Office has said the social care sector is undervalued and its workers poorly rewarded.

Here are some of the main themes in the NAO’s report into adult social care in England.

– The vacancy rate across social care is 6.6% in 2016/17, compared with an average of 2.5% across all sectors in the UK.

– The vacancy rate for nurses in social care more than doubled between 2012-13 and 2016-17 and was 9% last year.

– The turnover rate of all care staff has been increasing over the last few years and reached 27.8% in 2016/17 – this was particularly high for care workers (33.8%) and registered nurses (32.1%).

– The NAO said high vacancy rates and turnover can “disrupt the continuity and quality of care for service users” and also mean providers incur regular recruitment and induction costs”.

– There are around 1.34 million adult social care jobs in England and around half of care workers were paid £7.50 last year.

– The NAO said workers feel undervalued and there are limited opportunities for career progression. It highlighted that low pay for care workers could be contributing to high vacancy and turnover rates.

– The Department of Health and Social Care estimates that the workforce will need to grow by 2.6% every year until 2035 to meet growing demand but the annual growth in the number of jobs since 2013 has been 2% or lower.

– Yet the last time a national social care workforce strategy was published by the department was in 2009 – this document is only accessible on the National Archive website and mentions organisations that no longer exist, the NAO said.

– Local authorities spent 5.3% less on care in 2016-17 compared with 2010-11

– Because of funding constraints, care providers have said they must prioritise the provision of care over long-term learning and career development.

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