Social care workforce analysed: special report

The social care workforce employed by councils is closely examined in a new survey published last week by the Local Government Association.

Recruitment and retention difficulties persist, particularly in children’s social work, home care and occupational therapy, according to the survey which Community Care reported on last week.

Findings are based on 104 of the 149 social services departments in England, as at 30 September 2005.

The main findings are outlined below.


Councils employ over 277,000 social care staff in England, of which half work part-time. One quarter work in residential care.


80 per cent are female.


Eleven per cent are of black and ethnic minority origin.

Vacancy rates

Social care workforce vacancy rates fell from 11.1 per cent in 2004 to 10.5 per cent in 2005.

Highest vacancies

Highest vacancy rates are for care staff in children’s homes (15.1 per cent). Care homes for adults with physical disabilities, mental health problems or learning difficulties have 12.3 per cent vacancies. At 14.8%, vacancies in London are the highest in England.

Lowest vacancies

Lowest vacancy rates are for managers in older people’s homes at 8.5 per cent and home care staff, 9.4 per cent.

Lowest vacancies are in the north east (7.1 per cent) and south west (6.4 per cent).


Councils spent 15.7 million on advertising jobs in 2005, down from 19 million in 2004. Other recruitment methods include placing adverts on websites, public transport and in local papers. Job fairs, local flyers and contacting schools and universities are also used.


Turnover fell from 13.1per cent  in 2004 to 11.6 per cent in 2005. Turnover has edged downwards from 13.9 per cent in 2001.

Highest turnover

Turnover is highest among care staff in older people’s homes (13.8 per cent), home care staff (13.4 per cent) and occupational therapists (12.6 per cent).

One in seven people leaving social care are retiring.

Tackling social worker shortages

The most common ways of tackling social worker shortages are training social work assistants to become qualified social workers, improving IT, and providing more training for support staff. The most successful councils are increasing use of home working and providing key worker housing.


Social work team leader (adult) £35,354

Social work team leader (children) £36,184

Social worker/care manager (adult) £29,315

Social worker (children) £29,892

Social work assistant (adult) £21,146

Social work assistant (children) £20,757

Home care manager £29,506

Figures are based on averages.


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