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New report shows social care is a £5.1bn engine of economic growth


A new report published today – Scotland’s Care Sector: An Economic Driver – marks a significant step towards a new narrative on social care by demonstrating that far from being a burden on the public finances, the social care sector contributes more than £5.1bn Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Scottish economy and supports some 300,000 jobs.

Commissioned by ENABLE Group from BiGGAR Economics, the report demonstrates that:

  • The social care sector’s direct economic impact is more than £3.3bn
  • Social care’s indirect economic impact (through supply chains and supporting industries) contributes £800m
  • The induced impact of the sector (from employees spending their wages) generates £1.1bn
  • 206,410 jobs (155,330 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs)) are directly provided in the wider social care sector.
  • 49,510 jobs (37,260 FTEs) in suppliers and supporting industries are supported by the sector.
  • 41,100 jobs (30,930 FTEs) are supported by social care employees’ spending in the economy.
  • Raising pay for Scotland’s frontline social care workers will provide a significant boost to the national economy – generating additional tax revenues, reducing the need for in-work benefits, and enabling higher spending in the real economy.
  • Many of the National Performance Framework outcomes and indicators can be positively aligned with high quality social care from all perspectives; the person using care; the care workforce; communities; businesses; and society as a whole.
  • Social care has the potential to be a “Superpolicy” because it can achieve positive outcomes across a wide range of areas without unintended negative outcomes.

Read the Report Here

Graeme Blackett, Director of BiGGAR Economics said:

The care sector is often discussed in terms of the challenges of funding it. However, this study shows that we should recognise the significant contribution that the care sector makes to the Scottish economy and how it can be a driver of inclusive sustainable growth as the Scottish population ages, if wage levels reflected the value of care to society.

ENABLE Group CEO Theresa Shearer said:

This new report lays out a detailed economic analysis that strengthens the case for significant investment in social care, and in particular, demonstrates how enhanced pay for the frontline social care workforce brings benefits to the wider economy.
As the population ages and expectations of truly human rights-driven, self-directed support rightly grow, the social care sector must no longer be viewed as some expensive burden, but as a thriving engine of inclusive, sustainable growth for the future Scottish economy.


Professor Nick Watson, Chair of Disability Studies at the University of Glasgow, welcomed the report, saying:

Too often, care is presented as a burden; as something that we, as a society, are forced to provide and as a drain on our economy; using up resources that would be better employed elsewhere. In this excellent report, ENABLE have turned the tables on this idea and have been able to show the contribution care and the care sector makes to our economy. It is, as the report demonstrates, one of Scotland’s largest industries, employing large numbers of people and generating wealth in the process. The care sector should be seen as an asset to our community and not a burden.
Investment in the care sector will not just provide better support for those it cares for, it will also help to boost our economy and provide good, secure and rewarding jobs. Hopefully, this report will start moving discussions forward and help to change the way the financing and economy of care and the care sector are framed.

John Dalrymple, Director of Radical Visions, said:

This is the type of detailed and powerful economic analysis that should finally help to put a proper distance between social care and the deficit-laden connotations of “welfare”. It reminds us that far from being a drain on our economy by a stigmatised and dependent minority, social care is in fact (as Feeley has asserted) an investment in and by and for all of us. The win-win-win economic prospects of the “superpolicy” it projects are exciting.

ENABLE Scotland is seeking to raise the rate of pay for its frontline social care workforce to at least £10 per contracted hour from 1st October 2021.

This would take the minimum pay for ENABLE’s Personal Assistants to 50p above the real living wage rate of £9.50 per hour, and is equivalent to a 5.2% pay rise – worth over £1,000 per year for a full time care worker.