Lessons from outsourcing adult social care: the workforce issues

This report presents the findings of a study commissioned by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to explore outsourcing within adult social care. It examines how this has affected the workforce and the lessons for the rest of local government.

Over the last decade in England, local government has outsourced major parts of adult social care. Most services are now delivered by the private sector. The remainder is provided by councils or the voluntary sector.

Services are delivered by a large, diverse and dispersed workforce of around one million workers. They are employed by more than 30,000 employers, from individuals and small businesses to large corporations. This is now one of the largest workforces in the UK.

Rising numbers of people using social care services are becoming employers themselves. This is adding to the complexity of workforce relationships. The numbers are currently small but the government would like them to grow.

The impact of these changes in adult social care has been considerable. There are fiercely-held views about the costs, quality and the reality of enhanced choices. The effects on the workforce have been significant, with concerns that workforce challenges have been exacerbated by outsourcing.

The government is challenging the rest of local government to consider the benefits of outsourcing more of its services.

This report offers a set of ‘messages' for other parts of local government on how they might manage workforce issues positively if and when they consider outsourcing. These are:

  • carefully manage the transfer
  • consider the whole financial impact
  • strengthen strategic and operational partnerships
  • consider the impact of commissioning on the workforce
  • value and invest in the whole workforce
  • involve service users.

' Lessons from Outsourcing Adult Social Care: the Workforce Issues' (PDF, 27 pages, 727KB)

13 February 2013

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