Staff vacancies in care services 2020 report

09 Dec 2021

The Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) have published new figures on the levels of staff vacancies in Scotland’s care services.

This report is based on data from 31 December 2020. As with previous reports, this report provides a national overview of vacancies and recruitment difficulties reported by care services to the Care Inspectorate, the body which registers and inspects all care services. It also includes data on vacancies as a percentage of the total whole time equivalent (WTE) workforce.

It is important to note that the data collection underpinning this report happened between January and March 2021 while Scotland was experiencing very high levels of Covid-19 cases and subject to national restrictions. A combination of the internal pressures in care services and the external factors around restrictions and financial support may result in the findings of this report being reflective of this particular time under Covid-19 rather than indicative of the longer-term trend that had previously been seen in care services with a higher proportion of services reporting vacancies and finding them hard to fill. It may also have masked or delayed the impact Brexit has or would have had on the vacancies reported by care services in Scotland.

On 31st December 2020, 36% of services reported having vacancies. This was decrease of 3 percentage points from 2019 (39%), and 2 percentage points from 2018 and 2017 (38%). Housing support services (60% of services), care at home services (59% of services), care homes for older people (55% of services), and care homes for adults (48% of services) had the largest proportion of services reporting vacancies where the service type had more than 100 services.

On 31 December 2020, the rate of WTE vacancies for all services in Scotland was 5.1%, down from 6.2% in 2019. This was higher than the overall vacancy rate across all establishments in Scotland of 1.9% reported in the Scottish Government’s Employer skills Survey 2020 The information in the report on vacancies, problems filling vacancies and the reasons why services have reported having problems filling vacancies, has been extracted from information provided by care services, across early learning and childcare, children’s services and adult social care. Every care service is asked to complete an annual return each year to provide statistical and other information. The vacancy questions are asked for every care service type apart from childminders, who are typically sole providers.

This is the first year we reported on Nurse WTE vacancy rates. The reported rate of WTE nursing vacancies for all services in Scotland was 7.4%,  with Care homes for adults (10.8%) and care homes for older people (7.9%) having the highest rate of WTE nursing vacancies of all service types.


The tables and are available in Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) and OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods) format.  Additionally, the tables are available in non-proprietary Comma Separated Values (CSV) format, together in a compressed ZIP file. The provision of the data in these formats is intended to facilitate its analysis and re-use.

Description File type File size (KB)  
All tables (Excel 2010) .xlsx 87.0 Download
All tables (Open document) .ods 66.0 Download
All tables (CSV zipped) .csv 26.3  Download