Press Release

20 November 2019

FCC calls for a Digital Duty of Care to help shore up fragile care provision


A new report, Data that Cares, highlights structural changes to the residential care home market in England and calls for investment in critical digital infrastructure to ensure that residential care providers potentially at risk of failing financially are easier to identify.

The research has been published by independent charity, Future Care Capital (FCC), and uses publicly available data about local authority spending on social care as well as data published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Companies House.

The report highlights findings from its analysis of large datasets and uses machine learning techniques to help address the concerns set out in the most recent budget survey report from the Association for Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).  The report indicated that one-third of councils (52) with social care responsibilities had seen residential or nursing care providers close or cease trading in the previous six months. If the findings from FCC’s analysis are extrapolated to consider the implications of its modeling for England as a whole, 25,205 beds could potentially be ‘at risk’ amongst care home operators on the basis of its most cautious definition of risk – equivalent to 5% of residential care home beds in England as of July 2019.

FCC’s report also highlights significant gaps in our knowledge of social care demand and provision for the purposes of planning and commissioning as well as for families in search of high-quality care for their loved ones.

As political parties prepare to publish their manifesto commitments, FCC has called upon the Government to introduce a ‘Digital Duty of Care’ which would require all public bodies responsible for the commissioning, provision, monitoring or regulation of social care services to collect and publish high quality, interoperable data to enable:

  • robust research and analysis;
  • real-time monitoring of provision and safeguarding of individuals; and
  • the appropriate use of such data by innovators and entrepreneurs to help stimulate the data-driven care technology market.

Annemarie Naylor MBE, Director of Policy and Strategy at FCC, said: “The lack of comprehensive, high quality and standardized social care data means that policymakers are fumbling in the dark when it comes to planning for social care as it is hard to see whether public funds are being spent wisely, pinpoint areas for improvement or spot weaknesses in local care markets before they impact service users.

“If the cash injections offered by politicians in this election are to be put to best use, it will be crucial for policymakers and commissioners to have a better understanding of care markets. It is clear from our research that a commitment to high-quality care for the most vulnerable people in our society needs to go hand in hand with high-quality social care data.”

This is a view supported by CEO of the Open Data Institute, Jeni Tennison who said: “As governments, businesses and charities seek to improve social care provision, we should remember to also strengthen the data infrastructure that supports it. A society that cares needs data that cares.”

Speaking at the launch of the Doteveryone report Better care in the age of automation on 24 September, Ed Humpherson, Director General – Office for Statistics Regulation, commented “I am responsible for regulating data across economics, employment, health and more and it is social care that stands out by far for its low quality or even absent data. We need parity of measurement to have parity of policy. This is particularly significant when comparing social care to the data-rich health system.”

Download the full report, here.


Notes to Editors

  1. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact CJ Marshall, Public Relations Manager, on 020 3909 3704 / [email protected].
  2. Future Care Capital is a charity which undertakes research to advance ideas that will help shape future health and social care policy and deliver better outcomes for individuals living in the UK. For more information about us, please visit:
  3. “Data that Cares” is a report published on Wednesday 20th November 2019 by Future Care Capital. It is written by Annemarie Naylor MBE, Director of Policy and Strategy, Future Care Capital and Dr Josefine Magnusson, Senior Research Officer, Future Care Capital and is available online via
  4. Cambridge Econometrics undertook the detailed statistical analysis underpinning Parts A and B of this report, whilst Spend Network constructed the datasets on which the modelling outlined in Part C is based.
  5. FCC also partnered with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in undertaking this research and has donated the data and insights, where permissible, for their own independent use.
  6. In exploring the structure and stability of residential social care markets, we found that: the overall number of care home beds in care homes registered with the CQC has fallen over time and there has been a shift to larger care homes; there has been a fall in provision from small care homes in most areas; care homes also appear to be catering to an increasing range of needs, private companies are increasingly dominant, while not-for-profit provision declines; the private company market share has increased in almost all local authorities; large provider brands remain significant but seemingly less so over time; at a local authority level, changes in older people’s provision do not clearly track changes in population.
  7. In examining the performance of social care providers by size, type and location, we found that: there are relatively few measures of quality that are publicly available data with which to assess social care provision; CQC inspection coverage and ratings have improved over time, but CQC ratings are a lagging indicator of quality; the private sector tends to be rated as lower quality than its public and not-for-profit counterparts; smaller care homes tend to be rated as better quality than their larger counterparts; there is substantial variation in quality ratings at a local authority level, and area-level links to quality are more difficult to establish; social care-related quality of life is not obviously correlated to private company market share.

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