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Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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The adult social care market in Essex is facing significant challenges due to a number of reasons, these include:

An ageing population and more people with long term conditions

21% of our population are currently over 65, which will increase to 27% by 2035. The fastest levels of population growth in Essex are amongst the 70–74 age group, which has grown by 44% over the past decade.
Our older adult population is growing nearly twice as fast as our working age adult population. Life expectancy is stalling due to Covid and we have a significant gap between the least and most deprived wards (7.5 yrs for men & 6.3 yrs for women).

Demand for adult social care is growing each year

The demand for people with dementia will increase with 20% by 2030 and we will equally see an increase of 20% by 2030 of people aged 65+ to have severe depression.

The population of people with learning disabilities & autism is expected to grow by 3% by 2025 and the population of working aged adults with some sensory impairments are set to grow by 5%.

The Workforce pressures

Recruitment and retention of all care staff is difficult and will get increasingly more difficult. Vacancy rates in Essex Adult Social Care for 2022/23 was 10.8% across all sectors, and this showed a turnover rate of 28% that is 8,500 people leaving the sector.  The biggest vacancy rate is within the home care sector at nearly 15%, but workers in the nursing care homes leaving the sector was a staggering 34.5%.

Higher than average spend on Learning Disabilities & Autism

Around 21,000 adults across Essex have a learning disability, and a further 15,000 have autism – this is predicted to rise a further 6% before 2040. Essex has historically been spending more per person than other councils on adults with learning disabilities, in large part as a consequence of the legacy of the long-stay hospitals in Essex.

The gap between deprived and less deprived areas of the county is getting bigger

Over the last 15 years, the percentage of the Essex population living in the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in England has doubled. Since 2010, Jaywick in North-East Essex has had the highest levels of deprivation of all neighbourhoods in England.

Uncertainty in funding 

The funding for adult social care in England has remained a key topic of debate for the government during 2022/23.  We continue to lack a long-term understanding of what our funding will look like and where it will come from, the much needed social care reform is becoming a pressing issue for most local authorities.

Economic impacts 

There are also the obvious impact of COVID-19 that has had a damaging impact on social care services since early 2020.  These challenges weren’t just impacting on health, but also on our economy.  The economic impacts of COVID-19 are likely to result in unemployment rising to the highest in areas of greater deprivation.

The sector remains affected by the wider economic state of the country and the world. The cost-of-living crisis affects us all and will impact both our financial situation as well as the demand on our services as unemployment rises. Furthermore, economic challenges may exacerbate issues such as shortages in the workforce, where new starters and retention remain an issue.

Mental Health

The overall mental health system is under considerable strain. The demand has been increasing for some time, exacerbated by the pandemic and cost of living crisis.  There are continuing challenges around mental health assessments and supporting people with mental health problems out of hospital.  Partners across Southend, Essex and Thurrock have developed a joint strategic approach that aims to ensure access to community-based support and improve pathways in acute and crisis services and wider recovery-linked services.  


Last updated: 31/03/2024