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Survey analyses financial challenges in the adult social care sector

The survey for Sector Pulse Check 2023, is an annual report analysing the financial health and workforce challenges faced by the adult social care sector.
Kirsty Matthews

Hft, a charity that supports more than 2,000 learning disabled adults across England and Wales, and Care England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care in England, have launched the report.

Now in its 8th year, it provides an annual snapshot of the state of the adult social care sector, helping to monitor trends, propose calls to action and bring vital data to illustrate ongoing challenges to Government.

Having previously focused exclusively on learning disability services, Hft and Care England partnered last year to expand the scope of the survey to include older persons’ care and, for the first time, provide a comprehensive overview of the entire adult social care sector.

Top line data emerging from the 2022 report – which was referenced in numerous Parliamentary debates and cited in over 600 media articles – included:

* one third of care providers across the adult social care sector said they had considered exiting the market in 2022 as a result of financial pressures

* 42% of care providers had to close down a part of their organisation or hand back contracts to Local Authorities; and

* 82% of care providers reported they were either in deficit or had experienced a decrease in their surplus over the past 12 months

Hft and Care England are once again calling on adult social care providers to share their experiences to ensure the true state of the sector can be represented to key policy and decision makers. Aside from the regular focus on financial health and workforce challenges, the 2023 survey explores new themes around international recruitment and expectations from Government in anticipation of the next general election.

With the final report due for release in January 2024, Sector Pulse Check will again be a landmark publication for the adult social care sector. It constitutes a valuable evidence base to support conversations with key stakeholders about the creation of a truly sustainable and thriving social care sector, which can support learning disabled adults and older people to live the best life possible.

The Sector Pulse Check 2023 survey for adult social care providers can be found here. For more information about Sector Pulse Check and last year’s report, visit Hft or Care England’s website.

Kirsty Matthews, Chief Executive Officer of Hft, said: “It is exciting to once again partner with Care England to deliver what will be our eighth edition of the Sector Pulse Check report. With the data collected, we can bring commissioners, the public, parliamentarians and the Government closer to the reality faced by adult social care providers, and evidence vital recommendations for change.

“The annual survey of providers – launched today – allows us to track, over time, how the legislative and economic landscape has impacted upon the sector. Last year, the survey findings – which were referenced in parliamentary debates and were the subject of a parliamentary roundtable – revealed that one third of providers had considered exiting the market due to cost pressures, while high staff vacancies had forced over half of providers to turn down admissions. With financial and workforce challenges persisting, the survey will again ask providers to speak to these themes.

“As we enter into the next survey period, a general election is on the horizon and, with it, an important chance to push social care up the agenda. We urge providers to make the most of this opportunity, to take part in the survey and join us in calling for the change our sector, those who work in it and draw upon it, so desperately need.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive at Care England, said: “Following the success of last year’s Sector Pulse Check report, we are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Hft to produce this invaluable piece of research. Amid a congested political landscape, the Sector Pulse Check represents a unique opportunity for the voices and priorities of care providers to be heard among key decision makers.

“As ever, financial and workforce challenges remain a top priority within the sector. In addition to renewing our focus on these important topics, this year’s survey is also exploring new themes that have become increasingly pertinent over the past 12 months. The growing role of international recruitment in the workforce, for instance, is a key development we are seeking to understand in greater detail. Similarly, this year’s report will help us understand whether recent Government reforms, notably the Fair Cost of Care exercise, have helped move the sector in the right direction.

“Despite repeated calls to put adult social care on a sustainable footing, the sector continues to face a wide array of challenges. As the General Election looms ever closer, the importance of illustrating these through meaningful and reliable data cannot be overstated. Sector Pulse Check is our opportunity to evidence the necessity for meaningful change and I urge care providers to have their say by taking part in the survey.”

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