High vacancy rates across social work and social care mean agency workers are a regular fixture for employers. So are they merely acting as sticking plasters to patch up a system in crisis or do agencies have something positive and unique to add to the sector? The answers to these questions have crucial policy implications. For instance, there is no representation from agencies on the government’s Options for Excellence social care workforce review. For social workers, agency working can offer better pay, flexibility of employment and the opportunity to try a variety of roles. Some staff set themselves up as limited companies and earn even more through tax arrangements. But there are downsides, such as reduced benefits, having to find your own pension and less access to training.