Employee Assistance Programme

Online GP services, Counselling, wellbeing tools and access to retail discounts. Find out more

Care Market Offers

Explore a range of offers from our Procurement Support Programme

Essex County Council - Provider Hub
Text size:

Why we need a strategy

Adult Social Care is the delivery of a range of activities to support people who have care and support needs, including people living with a disability, a mental health condition, or frailty. Support ranges from personal care delivered within a person’s own home or within a residential setting, or support in the community.

The development of this strategy has been designed to empower the social care workforce in Essex to understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities it faces against a backdrop of a number of local, regional and national drivers.

The aim of this strategy is to focus our efforts and intentions on supporting a more sustainable care workforce over the next five years.

In December 2021, DHSC published a white paper on wider plans for social care reform. Three key objectives at the heart of government’s 10 year vision for Adult Social Care:

  • People have choice, control & support to live an independent life
  • People can access outstanding quality and tailored care and support
  • People find Adult Social Care fair and accessible


Growing workforce demand

Skills for Care predicts that an extra 480,000 workers are needed nationally in social care by 2035 to keep pace with demand. Meanwhile, 430,000 carers could be lost in the next 10 years if those aged 55 and over decide to retire.

12% vacancy rate, 32% turnover

In Essex there are approximately 3,100 direct care vacancies across the sector. In 2022/23 there were 7,000 leavers from direct care roles. 

Care worker wages

In Essex the average wage for care workers in 2022/23 was £10.33 per hour (source: Skills for Care). In April 2024 rose to £11.44 (for those aged 21 and over).

Ageing female workforce

82% of the workforce in Essex are female, with an average age of 44 years. Workers over 55 years represented 28% and given this age profile nearly 9,500 posts will be reaching retirement age in the next 10 years.

Social care vacancy rates higher than other sectors

Social care vacancy rate of 12% is higher than other industries: NHS 7.9%, retail 3.6%, education 2.7% and manufacturing 3.9%. This indicates social care roles are not as attractive as other sectors.

Social Care Reform demand

Early prediction impact assessments indicate that Essex may have an additional demand of 8,000 people approaching ECC for a care account following the proposed care reform, and out of these 57% would be requiring community support. (source: ECC estimates)

Data sourced from Skills for Care 2022/23 (unless otherwise indicated)

The strategy will support:

  • All adult social care providers and their workforce* across Essex
  • People benefitting from services, their families and un-paid carers
  • Private and voluntary services
  • Health partners and stakeholders
  • Higher and Further Education and Training providers
  • Political leaders
  • General public

*This does not include staff employed directly by Essex County Council, a separate plan is in place for our staff.

We recognise the strategy will be used in different ways by different audiences, such as:

For politicians and commissioners: to help understand the background, key challenges, the increasing demand on the workforce and support to shape future policies.

For partners and stakeholders: to help understand the areas for joint working and collaboration.

For social care providers and wider workforce to have a dedicated charter for improvements and innovations.

For Essex residents: to see the importance and value of the social care workforce and the future investments in this sector. To make working in care an attractive option for job seekers.

The Workforce Strategy sits within the six priority areas of our Market Shaping Strategy:

  • Addressing the workforce challenges
  • Effective management of capacity and demand
  • Putting adults experience at the centre
  • Delivering good quality service
  • Maximising independence and efficiency through technology
  • Ensuring financial sustainability

The strategy feeds into the Adult Social Care Business Plan which sets out the most important things for Essex to do.

Alignment to other strategies:

  • ASC Business Plan
  • ASC Market Shaping Strategy 2023-2030
  • Levelling Up Essex 2022
  • Essex Carers Strategy 2022
  • Essex Mental Health Strategy
  • Essex Disability Strategy 2023
  • All-age Autism Strategy 2020-2025
  • Essex Joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2022-2026
  • Essex Housing Strategy 2021-2025
  • SET Dementia Strategy 2022-2026
  • Robust recruitment and retention tools 

    The Essex care sector is recognised as being a place to work, with career progression and fair pay and conditions. Young people are attracted to join care. Recruiting staff with the right attitude and values to support retention.

  • Good supply of skilled workforce

    A skilled workforce with capacity to deliver the changing and growing needs of our residents and communities. Having specialist skills in complex care, prevention and early intervention support. Able to manage difficult behaviours and those with multiple support needs.

  • Continuous professional career development

    To have career pathways and training to attract more people into care and retain those already in the sector. Working closely with Health, develop a joint Health and Social Care Strategy (as part of the Health Integration Plan).

  • Health & wellbeing investment in our staff 

    To have a workforce that is respected and valued for the work they do. Supporting care providers to have employment packages that offer benefits. For example, discounts, flexible working conditions and wellbeing for care staff through a wellbeing strategy.

  • System-wide working through digital & data

    Understanding the workforce and the use of technology, simplifying processes and practice across the sector. Working seamlessly for a smooth transition between health and social care services.

Last updated: 16/05/2024