UK employed more social workers in 2006

There are more than 55,000 social workers employed by local authorities, according to annual staffing returns from the UK’s four countries. Social work numbers have increased across all four countries of the UK and more are becoming qualified. However, there continues to be a decline in home care, residential and day centre staff employed by councils as more services are contracted out. Dates in brackets indicate the month of the survey.

England (September 2006)

Staff in social services departments dropped by 1% between 2005 and 2006 and now stands at 213,300 (whole time equivalent, wte). This is also a decrease of 7% since 1997, although since 2001 the figure has been stable.

Half of the staff employed are part-time, down from 58% in 1998.

Staff break down into the following groups (wte):

• 20,600 central/strategic staff.
• 116,900 area and field work staff.
• 27,300 day care sector.
• 46,400 residential sector.
• 31,700 home care staff.

There were 40,100 (wte) social work staff of which 18,500 (46%) worked in children’s services, 8,800 (22%) adult services and 11,200 (28%) in health or specialist teams.

All social work sectors showed an increase in staffing with the overall total being 1,300 up on 2005.

In total, there are 76,300 qualified social workers in England according to the CSCI, which means that 36,200 registered social workers are in the voluntary or private sector.

• More at The Information Centre 

Scotland (October 2006)

There were 41,343 (wte) social work services staff employed by Scottish councils. This is a decline from 42,953 on the previous year. Four out of five staff were women and less than 1% were from ethnic minorities.

Most staff (61%) worked with adults while 17% worked with children.

• Fieldwork staff accounted for 12,322 (wte) or 30% of the staff total.
• Residential staff (adults and children) accounted for 20% and day centre staff 10% of the total social work services staff.
• There were just under 5,000 qualified social workers (ie fieldwork staff) up from 4,760 in 2005.
• And 2,398 qualified fieldwork staff.
• Social work assistants accounted for 2,231 people.

Vacancy rate among social workers was 7.5%, which is down from the 10% in the middle of the decade.

• More at Statistics Publication Notice: Health and Care Series: Staff of Scottish Local Authority Social Work Services, 2006

Northern Ireland (March 2006)

There were 50,419 (wte) health and social services staff, which represents an increase by just over a 1,000 on 2005,  and a 40% increase in the workforce since 1997. The numbers of social services staff are 4,696 (wte). and more than three-quarters were female.

There were:

• 1,459 qualified social workers. (Down from 1,691 in 2005).
• 214 unqualified social workers, and
• just over 600 senior social workers or team leaders. (Up from 486 in 2005).
• And just over 500 part-time social workers.

Care staff (day centres and residential) accounted for nearly 1,300 posts (wte)

There was a 4% vacancy rate in social services.

• More at Statistics and Research 

Wales (March 2006)

There were 19,936 (wte) staff employed by social services departments which is a 0.5% increase in the previous year. This total breaks down into:

• 5,282 central and support staff
• 3,807 social work services
• 7,834 home care
• 6,108 day centres
• 3,319 day services

Among social services staff, there were just over 1,000 social work trainees and assistants, and 2,782 social workers (up by 200 on 2005) and team managers. Of the latter 95% had a professional qualification, while across all social services staff the numbers with a professional qualification rose form 37% to 40%.

• More at Statistics

Contact the author
Keith Sellick


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