Over 20 MPs made a commitment to improve working conditions for social workers at an event held in the House of Commons.
The drop-in reception was organised by the British Association of Social Workers and the Social Workers Union to highlight the findings of their recent research report, UK Social Workers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing 2018.
The report, published by Dr. Jermaine Ravalier of Bath Spa University, shows that while social workers are strongly engaged in their work, they are increasingly hampered by poor working conditions, lack of resources and high caseloads.
Dr Ravalier’s latest research shows that little has changed since his survey in July 2017 when he found that social workers were doing an average of 64 days a year of unpaid overtime.
This situation is leaving them feeling so stressed and overwhelmed that the amount of social workers thinking of leaving their jobs has grown from 52 per cent to 60 per cent.
It takes up to four years to qualify as a social worker and high attrition rates increase reliance on contract workers, which in turn increases the cost.
SWU general secretary John McGowan said:
Creating the right working conditions for social workers is so important as currently they are not fit for purpose.
Workplace stress is the biggest cause of long-term sickness absence in the public sector across the UK. It can cause physical and psychological ill health, with the overall cost to the economy reaching approximately £800 per employee per year.
The three organisations want MPs to write to the Chancellor and Ministers requesting that social work is properly funded and resourced to retain the workforce and protect vulnerable children and adults.
BASW chief executive Ruth Allen said:
There was genuinely strong support and interest from across the political spectrum in our social workers working conditions and wellbeing campaign in Parliament. Political attention is important for long term policy change and it was interesting to talk about the role of MPs in promoting a positive narrative of social work.
BASW chair Gerry Nosowska added:
The event made a big impression on me, it shows the impact our professional association has on raising the profile of social work, influencing law and policy, upholding human rights and gaining support for our work.
You can find out more about the Professional Working Conditions campaign here.