Four in 10 social workers feel their caseload is unmanageable and two-thirds say it has increased in the past 12 months, a survey has found.
The online poll by Liquid Personnel also found that more than half of social work managers believe their team’s morale has dropped, exacerbated by negative media coverage.
One in five practitioners said misreporting in the mainstream media was the biggest problem facing social work.
The findings come 11 months after the Social Work Task Force concluded that the profession in England was trapped in a “vicious circle” of high caseloads caused by staff shortages. It was compounded by a poor public image which created recruitment problems and compromised the profession’s ability to deliver a good service.
The survey of more than 200 practitioners and managers in England and Wales found caseloads to be a major issue, particularly among child protection workers.
More than 40% of child protection staff said their current caseload was “unmanageable” and 16% said it was “totally unmanageable”, with more than three-quarters claiming they spend 70% of their time on admin work.
Overall, 84% of all social workers said they often have to work overtime to get the job done.
“Excessive caseloads are a problem for many social work teams, and they can have a significant effect on frontline workers’ ability to do their jobs effectively,” said Jonathan Coxon, managing director of Liquid Personnel
“We have seen how unmanageable caseloads can lead to dangerous working conditions and create risks for vulnerable children, and this situation will persist unless caseloads are addressed.”
The findings follow the revelation that Khyra Ishaq’s social worker had 50 cases allocated to her.
• Community Care has launched its own survey of social workers’ caseloads to build an accurate picture of their level of work