About one in four social workers are handling more than 30 cases at once, according to a survey by the British Association of Social Workers.
And 47% of the 395 BASW members who responded to the online survey have a caseload of 20 or more.
BASW claimed the results of The State of Social Work Today highlighted how the profession had become an “impossible” vocation in the UK.
The research showed that 56% of social workers had seriously considered leaving the profession in the past year. Reasons included stress, negative media coverage of social work and too much time spent in front of the computer and high caseloads.
The Social Work Task Force recognised widespread concerns about workloads in its final report in December, but concluded that it would be “inappropriate” to impose a ceiling on caseload sizes.
It said: “The feedback the taskforce has received from organisations that have tried to implement formal caseload management systems (including weighted systems) suggests that they struggle to cope with all of the variables affecting practice on the frontline.”
BASW’s survey found 8% of social workers had received no supervision in the past year, reflecting findings in a recent survey by the Social Work Task Force.
The taskforce found one in four children’s social workers and one-third of adults’ social workers miss out on monthly supervision.
Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social workers, said regular meetings with supervisors helped to give social workers confidence.
“Social work is a very demanding job, and people working in the profession need the support that proper supervision gives them,” she said.
“It is critical to the quality of the service that social workers have the chance with their supervisor to examine and re-assess their decision-making on cases.”