Social care for adults contributes more than £2 billion to the Welsh economy and creates jobs for 127,000 people, a new study has found.
It also directly employs more people than the NHS, which makes it one of the biggest employers in the country. Most are employed in care homes and home care.
The findings are taken from an independent study of the adult social care sector in Wales by ICF Consulting Limited.
The study looked at the direct value added by adult social care, as well as its wider impact, which includes its effect on organisations that supply services to the sector and the spending power of those directly and indirectly employed in social care.
This wider impact means that social care contributes £2.2 billion to the Welsh economy overall, with £1.1 billion of this directly added by the social care sector.
This makes adult social care the seventh largest contributor to the Welsh economy at two per cent, with residential care adding the most (£329 million or 29 per cent).
Adult social care is also the seventh largest employment sector in Wales, with six per cent of Wales’s workforce involved in providing social care to adults. The sector employs 83,400 people – 7,400 more than NHS Wales, which employs 76,000 people.
If this number includes the impact on suppliers and the money spent by all employees linked in some way to adult social care, the sector supports a total of 127,000 jobs.
The study also found that adult social care in Wales employs a larger proportion of the total workforce than any other UK country, with the average employee earning around £16,800 a year.
The survey was commissioned by Skills for Care and Development on behalf of a group of organisations from across the UK, including Social Care Wales, the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru and Care Forum Wales.
Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies said:
“I am pleased to welcome this report which clearly demonstrates the importance of the adult social care sector to the Welsh economy.
“Social care plays an essential role in the expansion of our economy, by helping those with caring responsibilities enter, return to, or stay in work, and the social care sector is also a significant and growing provider of employment opportunities in its own right. I am absolutely committed to raising the status and profile of social care workers, so that social care becomes a positive career choice, where people are valued and supported responsibly.
“As a Government we have also taken steps to help make the social care sector a more attractive place to work – introducing the National Living Wage grant in 2017-18 and bringing forward regulations to improve terms and conditions of the workforce by limiting the use of zero hours contracts and clearly differentiating between care and travel time. But collectively, there is more that we can do to help grow and support our workforce so that we can meet the growing demand for care.”
Sue Evans, Chief Executive of Social Care Wales, said:
“This study provides evidence that adult social care makes a major contribution to the Welsh economy.
“Not only does it provide essential care and support to our most vulnerable people living in all parts of Wales, but it contributes more financial value to the economy than many other sectors in Wales, including agriculture, the arts, entertainment and recreation.”
Jenny Williams, President of the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru, said:
“I am delighted to support the launch of this crucial report which illustrates the significant economic benefit provided by adult social care services in Wales.
“The report shows that upwards of 90,000 jobs are provided in Wales in addition to the hundreds of thousands of unpaid carers who support the social care and health economy. It is time to change the narrative to that of a positive story for workers and providers of social care. We need to showcase the sector and better describe the ongoing added value for all concerned.”
Mary Wimbury, Chief Executive of Care Forum Wales, which represents more than 400 social care providers in Wales, said:
“Our members know that they do vital work in care for some of our most vulnerable members in society, but it is also important not to underestimate their contribution to the Welsh economy.
“In addition to the value quoted in this report, they also enable other people to work by caring for their loved ones. Social care provision must be seen as a vital component in helping local economies across Wales thrive.”