Social work: the reality revealed

Personal accounts of the tough day to day life of social work staff across the country are laid bare in Social Work Watch – a new report from national UNISON.

The difficulties social workers face are fuelled by official figures showing that councils cut spending on social services staff by £746m (adults) and £147m (children) between 2010/11 and 2012/13, as central government cut more than £5 billion from council grants.

The impact of cuts on children and adults is revealed in stark reality as social workers struggle to support and protect people in need.

Five key findings of the national study:

  1. 61% said that their ability to make a daily difference was affected by budgets and resource cuts.
  2. 52% said their case-load size was affected by covering for staff shortages e.g. vacancies or long-term sick.
  3. Just 29% of employers used a formal case-load management system. Even where this existed, 39% said their case-load was over the limit.
  4. 44% of staff in children’s services covered by a case-load management systems were currently ‘over the limit’.
  5. 84% had no proper break during the day, often work a 9-hour day, sometimes up to 16 hours.

UNISON is calling for a range of measures to stop unnecessary stress, but success hinges on a reversal of pernicious budget cuts. They may create short term savings, but at far greater long-term financial and social cost

Click here to download the report (pdf)