Voluntary sector, social care and the Big Society

After a pleasant 30 minutes reading NCVO’s excellent UK Civil Society Almanac 2010, here are some key facts relating to the role of the voluntary sector in adult social care:

  • In 2007/08 local authority expenditure on social care was £20.7bn, of which £15.3bn was for adult social care.
  • Social care workforce in the voluntary sector grew from 19% in 1996/97 (202,000 people) to 26% in 2007/08 (374,000). As a comparison, the voluntary sector as a whole employs approximately 2.3% of the whole workforce (668,000 people) (2008 figures). The vast majority of these voluntary sector workers in social care work in non-residential settings – 86%, or 323,000 people.
  • Nearly 37% of all voluntary sector employees work part-time (total of 247,000 people), compared to 29% and 23% in the public and private sectors respectively.
  • Levels of volunteering in the general population have been roughly static over time, with 41% of people doing some formal volunteering work at least once in the last year, and 26% of people doing some formal volunteering work at least once a month.
  • In 2006/07, just 7% of formal volunteers were based in social welfare organisations. Some 8% were in organisations for older people and 22% for organisations work in health/disability.
  • Between 1999 and 2008 the voluntary sector had a higher rate of increase in staff (23%) than the private sector (7%) and public sector (18%), relating almost directly to the growth of public service delivery through contracts from central and local government.
  • 32,870 voluntary organisations were operating in social services in 2007/08. The next biggest category in which voluntary organisations operate is culture and recreation with 22,443 organisations. There were 15,352 organisations in community development, 7,993 in education, 6,470 in health, and 3,963 in housing.
  • For voluntary organisations operating within social care, the funding mix on average is 50% from statutory sources and 50% from other.

In the context of the Big Society driver, this leads me to 4 headline conclusions, particularly relating to the impact and future role of the voluntary sector in social care:

  1. Less money in local government means less money in social care means disproportionately less money in voluntary sector organisations (since they are over-represented in the voluntary sector as a whole)
  2. Over 1 in 4 staff in social care currently work in the voluntary sector, which means staff working for such organisations are likely to be disproporionately affected by cuts in public sector funding (since they are over-represented in the voluntary sector as a whole)
  3. Voluntary sector organisations that deliver social care services do so more under contract and more through salaried staff than voluntary sector organisations not working in social care
  4. Voluntary sector organisations that deliver social care services do so with less formal volunteers than those not working in social care

Thus, if the Big Society means (amongst other things) more people doing things as volunteers rather than as paid staff through voluntary sector organisations (and I’m still not clear if that’s the intention) then this will have a disproportionately negative impact on the direct provision of social care.

Indeed, if that’s what the Big Society means, I’m not sure the delivery of social care as it currently exists, with the voluntary sector as a significant agent in it (as evidenced by the workforce, expenditure and sheer scale of the voluntary sector in social care), would be viable.

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rich_w

Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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