The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is keen to ensure that statistics are able to answer important questions for society, are readily accessible, and provide a coherent and insightful narrative across sources where applicable. We see statistics as a public asset and want to maximise their value to users. Systemic reviews help us explore issues of public value and identify improvements that the statistics system may need to make.

One such area of statistics we have been exploring through the systemic review process is that of adult social care. In general, adult social care can be defined as the provision of social work, personal care, protection or social support services to adults in need or at risk.  A broad range of adults with needs arising from illness, disability, old age and/or poverty use social care. Statistics on adult social care present information on a variety of topics including:

  • Care at home
  • Adult social care services
  • Adult social care expenditure and deferred payments
  • People who are registered blind
  • Adult social care workforce
  • Dementia assessment and referral

OSR has heard from users that there is a growing need for statistics to understand how social care operates including issues of waiting times, access routes, funding, effectiveness, staffing and client experience. Such information is necessary to inform policy, and workforce and budget allocation particularly in local government. These are critical issues of high public interest where good statistics are vital to policy and service delivery. Responsibility for adult social care is devolved across the UK.

What we did and why

This systemic review explored the adult social care statistics landscape across the UK to better understand the strengths and weaknesses, and share the learning across the four nations, recognising the policy variations that have led to differences in how statistics are produced.

We wanted to further understand users’ needs for statistics about adult social care and discover and share best practice in the compilation, harmonisation, data linking potential, publication and statistical commentary of these statistics.

Through this systemic review we aimed to also increase and strengthen the number and quality of our relationships with both the adult social care statistics producers and users, and support those who can specifically deliver change.


In February 2019 we published a Blog outlining our main findings for the UK.

In June 2019 we published a report outlining the key findings for Wales.

We also produced high-level summary leaflets for each country:

We have closed the Northern Ireland strand of the review as summarised in a letter published in March 2019.

In January 2020, we published a report on adult social care statistics in England.

We are currently compiling our key findings for Scotland and aim to publish a report for this country in February 2020.

We also plan to share GB-level summary findings in February 2020.

An update on our project is available here.


What we want to happen as a result of this systemic review

Adult social care statistics across the UK are coherent, harmonised, insightful and accessible and answer society’s important questions thus ensuring that decision-makers, policy officials and the public have the information they require.


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