The Local Government Association has backed Community Care’s campaign to promote better support for social workers.
But Baroness Eaton, chair of the LGA, warned improvements would be difficult to achieve in the current economic climate.
She said the profession needed to “work harder” to identify innovative and cost-effective ways to improve the career and team structures in which social workers operate.
She was responding to Community Care and Unison’s joint 10-week campaign to highlight the conditions social workers need in order to practise safely, including manageable caseloads and paid overtime.
Baroness Eaton wrote: “We agree that innovative approaches both to the career and team structures that social workers operate in, and the nature of their day-to-day tasks, are very important in bringing about meaningful change.
But, although Baroness Eaton said the LGA would encourage employers to learn from examples of best practice, she warned that the profession as a whole needed to be “mindful of the competing claims of all services for diminishing resources”.
“This means we all need to work that much harder in identifying innovations and ensuring that they can be encouraged in a cost-effective way,” she said.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, which is now entering its fourth week, Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social work, said: “Overwhelming caseloads, difficulty with recruitment and retention, lack of management support and an over-reliance on agency staff haunted social work departments when Victoria Climbié died.
“They remain huge barriers to the safety of children and vulnerable adults today.”
The latest stage of the campaign calls for staff to be given at least 90 minutes of professional supervision every month.
Community Care and Unison have also produced a Social Work Contract, which contains the 10 points that will enable social workers to practice safely and effectively.
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