Taskforce survey: Social workers feel ‘tied up in bureaucracy’

An overwhelming majority of social workers feel overstretched by staff shortages and tied up in bureaucracy, according to an online survey conducted by the Social Work Task Force.

The survey, part of the taskforce’s call for evidence launched in May, revealed widespread dissatisfaction over a perceived lack of support for the profession.

Not enough time to spend with clients

In total, 92% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that social workers did not have enough time to work directly with clients because of lack of staff cover and having to deal with paperwork.

In addition, 68% agreed that social workers were not being given the tools and support they needed to do their job and 59% agreed that the education system did not effectively support ongoing career development and specialisation.

Media attacks make job harder

Eighty-eight per cent also said that media attacks on social workers had made it harder for them to do their job and had made recruitment more difficult, with 81% agreeing that the profession suffered from not having a “strong national voice”.

The survey attracted 370 responses, the majority from current or former social workers, with the rest predominantly from managers, social work academics and students.

Interim report backs national college

The report was released yesterday, alongside the taskforce’s latest interim report, which said social workers needed to be given time to spend directly with service users and reflect on their practice, high quality supervision and manageable workloads. It also said a national college of social work should be created to provide a strong voice for the profession.

It was produced as Community Care issued a survey of practitioners, in conjunction with Unison, which found respondents worked six hours a week in overtime on average and just a quarter rated their employers as good or excellent for caseload levels. Despite this, nearly three-quarters were very or fairly satisfied with their work.

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