WBG submission to the Public Accounts Committee: Adult Social care

Date Posted: Monday 19th February 2024

Paid and unpaid workSocial CareWomen and Employment

The Women’s Budget Group submitted a response to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on Reforming Adult Social Care in England. 


The adult social care workforce comprised of 81% of female workers, compared to 47% of the economically active population. In 2022/23 staff with a white ethnic background made up 74% of the adult social care workforce compared to 83% of the population of England. People with an Asian / Asian British ethnicity made up 9% of the workforce, and the population. People with a Black / African / Caribbean / Black British ethnicity made up 14% of the adult social care workforce compared to 4% of the population.[1] Therefore, while broader than the scope of this inquiry, the Women’s Budget Group (WBG) believe it is important to consider the impact of the social care workforce pathway on women and the promotion of gender equality as well as the impact on other protected groups under the Equality Act 2010.

The crisis in social care predates recent challenges such as the cost of living crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Underfunding and undervaluation have led to an unsustainable care system, with increasing unmet needs and reliance on unpaid carers, mainly women. While exacerbated by recent events, these longstanding issues continue to define the adult social care crisis today.

Key Recommendations:

  • Central Government Funding: The net costs of reforming the care system should be funded by the central government. Local authorities, particularly the poorest ones with the greatest social care needs, lack the resources to increase funding through local taxes without widening regional inequalities.
  • Universal Free Care Service: We propose transitioning to a high-quality universal care service that is free at the point of need. This service would support wellbeing, self-determination, and capacity enhancement, while ensuring appropriate training and pay for staff in line with the Real Living Wage. This would help ensure that unpaid care is genuinely voluntary.
  • Job Creation and Economic Impact: Implementing a universal care service is projected to generate 928,000 jobs across the economy, including in the care sector and through multiplier effects and increased purchasing power. Detailed costings for this proposal are provided in the paper’s final section.


[1] Skills for Care (2023) The State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce 2023