Scottish Government must double investment in adult social care support to drive transformative change and create up to 75,000 new jobs
Today the Scottish Women’s Budget Group launched new research calling for the Scottish Government to significantly ramp up its investment in the nation’s adult social care support services.
The new report – Towards a Transformative Universal Adult Social Care Support Service for Scotland – provides analysis that says the Scottish Government must double its current investment in the adult social care sector to create a truly universal, quality system for all. This would mean investing £6.8bn per year, almost double the current level.
This investment would not only address the long-term lack of investment in the sector, but also provide fairer pay to those working in it, create up to 75,000 new jobs, and reduce the pressures on unpaid carers created by unmet needs.
Investing in social care brings returns to society and the economy, and its call comes as the Scottish Government continues to develop the new National Care Service.
Sara Cowan, the Coordinator of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, said: “Scotland’s social care sector is in a critical state and needs urgent investment.
“For too long care has been underfunded and undervalued and, with women undertaking the majority of paid and unpaid care work, this undervaluation has both caused – and continues to drive – significant levels of gender inequality across our society.
“But there is an opportunity for change.
“We urge the Scottish Government to make significant extra investment in Scotland’s social care sector as a matter of urgency and we hope the numbers published in today’s research offer some benchmark as to what is needed to drive transformative change.”
SWBG calculates that to expand the reach of care services to those with more moderate care needs, eliminate unmet need in the system and increase the wages of paid care workers to a fairer £15.21 per hour, would cost £6.8 bn per year, up from about £3.5bn currently.
The research, which was part-funded by Oxfam Scotland, also provides a less ambitious scenario, requiring investment of £5.1bn per year – roughly 50% above current investment levels, as a step towards transformative change. This scenario covers current care needs, but expands coverage by about 20% to reduce unmet need, while extending free provisional to all types of care, and increasing pay rates to £12.50 an hour.
Organisations across the care sector have been pointing towards undervaluation of care and a lack of sufficient investment as the root causes of the current care crisis. Whilst plans to develop a new National Care Service are underway, SWBG’s report illustrates that significant extra funding is needed to create change for people accessing social care support, those paid to work in care services, and unpaid carers who shoulder much of the much of the pressure created by gaps within the current system.
The modelling also shows that doubling investment to £6.8bn per year could see 43,000 new care sector jobs created, as well as 8,000 new jobs in industries supplying the care sector, and over 24,000 new jobs through induced employment as a result of newly employed workers spending in the Scottish economy. Better paying care jobs would also see some return of investment through tax, as well as additional spending within local economies.
Dr Jerome De Henau, Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Open University, who conducted the analysis for the SWBG, said: “In Scotland, as across the UK, Government investment in care falls short despite ambitious political objectives of improving working conditions and access to care support.
“This modelling builds on experiences from other countries, particularly the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, where greater public investment is made in care based on universal access to care support by a professionalised and well-paid workforce.
“Rather than starting from current social care budgets, the modelling aims at costing care needs from the bottom up to show the extent of the additional investment required over the next ten years that would match those political ambitions. The modelling shows that a truly transformative system of adult social care should see public spending rise to between 3.5% and 4% of GDP, from the current 2%, a level on par with those Nordic countries.”
The Scottish Government has previously recognised the need to view care as an investment in our society and economy. The Scottish Women’s Budget Group is calling on them to consider the findings, and place adult social care support services on a pathway towards the funding levels required to ensure more people can access the care they need, while paying workers more fairly.
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