Turnover among social workers in adults’ services rose last year, official figures reveal.
One in six (16%) social workers in English council adults’ services departments quit or changed their jobs in 2016, up from 13% the previous year, according to the latest NHS Digital report on social care staffing. Almost one in five social workers (19%) started their jobs within the year, up from 15% in 2015.
Adult services departments employed 16,100 social workers in 2016, the same as the previous year. The number of unfilled posts fell, with vacancy rates dropping from 12% in 2015 to 11% in 2016. The average social worker salary rose 1% in cash terms last year, from £32,800 in September 2015 to £33,100 in 2016.
The report found that the gradual shift of wider social care roles from councils into the independent sector continued. The number of adult services jobs within local authorities dropped 6%, from 120,200 in 2015 to 112,800 in 2016. More than three-quarters of posts across the adult social care workforce in England (78%) are now in the independent sector. Most councils attributed the reduction in posts to service closures or restructures. However, the vast majority of social worker jobs (86%) were in local authorities.
Margaret Wilcox, president elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said councils had had £5.5bn cut from their social care budgets since 2010. This figure represents both the impact of actual cuts to budgets as well as the rising costs to councils of maintaining services at existing levels resulting from inflation and demographic pressures.
“Despite these huge pressures, councils have sought to protect frontline social workers while seeking efficiency in management and outsourcing direct care provision,” she said.
“Care staff and social workers are pulling out all the stops to provide personal and dignified care to those who need it, with the report showing that nearly half (44%) of adult social care workers had no days off sick in a year.
“This significant fall in staff numbers is unsurprising and is due to the social care funding crisis which is failing to tackle the growing demand within local communities for care of people living longer and with increasingly complex needs.”