Data that cares

Social care is increasingly acknowledged as an area in which we know little about. Compared to other aspects of people’s lives, often the data are either of low quality or simply absent.

In Data that Cares, a project for Future Care Capital (FCC), using public data, we sought to analyse structural changes in social care markets and how these markets differ across England.

We also assessed how the available information might (or might not) help councils to carry out their responsibilities for ensuing ‘vibrant and stable’ markets, by the Care Act 2014.

Our analysis revealed the continued and increasing dominance of private companies in the provision of social care as well as wide variation across local authorities in the composition and quality of that care.

The research also showed that while data can shed light on certain aspects of local care, significant gaps remain which hinder planners’ and commissioners’ ability to understand the nuances of their care economies.

The report also incorporated analysis of a new dataset by Spend Network to assess the financial health of social care providers, as proof of concept of a possible new early warning system for councils, drawing on techniques from machine learning.

Our analysis informed FCC’s policy recommendations, building on previous work for them: Facilitating care insight to develop caring economies. As part of a data sharing agreement between FCC and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), elements of the analysis also informed separate pieces on financialization in social care and a proposed new blueprint to reform social care.

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