The social care sector contributes billions of pounds to the Scottish economy.
A report by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) has revealed that the adult social care sector in Scotland is worth a total of £3.4 billion.
Nearly 148,000 people work for more than 5,000 regulated services, which makes social care the eighth biggest employment sector in terms of number of jobs and provides 6% of the total workforce in Scotland.
The private sector is the biggest employer in regulated care services employing 59,400 people, with 43,400 in voluntary and 35,100 in public sector services.
The direct economic impact in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA), the measure of the value of goods and services produced in a sector of the economy, is £2.2bn – which is higher than the agriculture, forestry and fishing and the arts and entertainment.
As well as the direct impact of adult social care the report also highlights the indirect and induced impact of the sector, which increases the estimated GVA to £3.4bn and 198,600 jobs.
The indirect effect of the sector (resulting from the purchase of intermediate goods and services by the adult social care sector in delivering its services) contributes a further 29,400 jobs and £501 million to the Scottish economy.
Health secretary Shona Robison said social care workers make a critical contribution to people’s health and wellbeing.
She said: “As the report shows, the sector makes a major contribution to the Scottish economy and to employment. These findings also highlight the positive impacts of the introduction of the real Living Wage in Scotland.
“We remain committed to transforming the way we deliver social care services and investing in the sector, as reflected in the additional £66 million we will put into social care during 2018/19.”
“This report shows that adult social care not only looks after some of the most vulnerable people in society but also makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy,” said SSSC interim chief executive Lorraine Gray.
“Many people might be surprised to learn that with 148,000 people working in adult social care it is comparable in size to the entire NHS in Scotland, which reinforces the importance of the social service sector as a whole.”
Similar analysis was carried out for the UK as a whole, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Some differences between Scotland and the other nations included that the level of productivity in the workforce is higher than all the other nations; average earnings of £18,400 in Scotland are higher than elsewhere and the number of full time equivalent jobs in adult social care per head of population is higher in Scotland than the other nations.
SSSC convener Jim McGoldrick added: “It is good to see adult social care workers in Scotland benefitting from the Scottish Living Wage, which pushes average earnings above those elsewhere in the UK.”
The UK report found there are almost 1.8 million people working in adult social care in the UK and the sector is worth £46.2bn and provides more than 2.6m jobs.