1 in 13 Workers in Scotland Employed in Social Services

Social Services continue to be a significant employment sector in Scotland as the annual statistical report shows an increase in the workforce of 0.8% to 206,400.

In Orkney and the two other Islands Authorities, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar , the main employer of social services is the public sector. Across the rest of Scotland it is mostly the private sector.

This needs to be understood during the current debate about the provision of Care Homes when commentators and politicians fail to realise that there is a mixture of provision in Scotland.

The statistics cover the year 2019 when the sector was under pressure with reduced budgets but increased demand for services. It will be interesting to see next year’s report after the sector took on such a crucial role in providing services during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Unfortunately data was not provided by Orkney Islands Council and therefore older information from 2018 was used to complete the report.

Number of people employed in each sub sector of social services in Scotland

The social service sector makes up 7.8% of employment in Scotland, which is roughly 1 in 13 or workers.

Although the Scottish Government has pledged to increase child care provision it is concerning that there were less than 5,000 childminders. There has been an increase in child day care provision other than that provided by childminders.

Many of the services provided by the sector have been reduced. Some of that may be due to restructuring but others can be laid firmly at cost cutting by councils. It is concerning to see where these services have been reduced – e.g adult day care, offender accommodation and care homes for adults. A substantial increase in the use of nurse agencies.

“Care homes for adults saw the largest actual fall in staffing of all the subsectors”

Number of services provided – from 2010 to 2019

The Third Sector plays a significant role in providing support services and relies heavily on volunteers in many of those areas. It is not known how many people volunteer their time and skills to support social services in their communities. The Third Sector is also an employer and those numbers can be determined. The details in the report are for those who are in paid employment.

In Orkney 1080 people were employed in social services by the public sector , 120 by the private sector and 110 by the voluntary sector. This makes a total of 1310. Bear in mind the figures from Orkney were not provided for 2019 so these are the 2018 numbers.

This map illustrates the distribution across all the local authorities of Scotland by public, private , voluntary sectors.

The different shades of blue give some idea of the patchwork type of provision in Scotland between private, public and voluntary.

Given the current debate on care homes it is noteworthy that almost half of private sector staff work in care homes for adults.

Social services has a very high proportion of female workers with 5 out of every 6. It is also an ageing workforce – with the exception of day care provision for children.

You can read/download the report here:

The social care sector has been put under incredible pressure with the Covid19 public health emergency. The Scottish Government in recognition of this has allocated additional funding to local authorities to be used in the provision of social care: an extra £50million in May 2020 and £50million in August 2020.

The additional funding is to be used on covid related costs.

Covid19 also brought into main stream public awareness the vital role social service workers have in our communities. It is hoped that this has in turn has brought about a greater appreciation of the work they do. It has also highlighted the differences in the adult care home sector with the majority of these being privately run in Scotland – the exceptions being in Orkney, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar.

The social service sector is diverse and complex. There are no quick fixes to how it can be improved but the Covid19 public health emergency is providing an opportunity to look anew at how the sector is delivering its vital services.

Jeane Freeman, Health Secretary in the Scottish Government commenting on the social service sector said:

“Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic the social care sector has played a crucial and critical role in Scotland’s response.

I know that it has been hugely challenging for social care staff and providers to deal with what is an unprecedented situation and all social care and healthcare staff working on the frontline have my sincere thanks.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

1 reply »

  1. It’s possible to work in the Social Work section, without being a social worker. there are care staff, cooks,clerical staff and so on and all part of the department. As an ex social worker (now retired) I would have loved to be able to only take on a ratio of 7:1, but it was always around 40:1.

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