We need a more rigorous system for assessing workloads and vacancy rates in local social work teams, say MPs

The all-party parliamentary group on social work reveals its 11 recommendations for improving the profession from 2014 onwards

The workload ‘health check’ recommended by the Social Work Task Force to assess workloads and vacancy rates in local social work teams should be reviewed and a more rigorous system introduced, a cross-party group of MPs has recommended.

In a report published today, the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on social work concludes that the taskforce’s recommendation that all social work employers carry out regular health checks of their social work departments has not done enough to improve conditions at the frontline.

The APPG was established following lobbying from the British Association of Social Workers (BASW, which is now secretariat to the group) and comprises more than 20 MPs and peers, including former social workers.

Since it began meeting in November 2012, the group has heard evidence from frontline social workers of unmanageable caseloads, rising numbers of children entering care and detrimental IT systems.

In today’s report, Inquiry into the State of Social Work, the APPG makes 11 recommendations for reforming the profession.

As well as reviewing the way in which employers monitor workloads, the APPG had two suggestions for reducing bureaucracy:

  • By taking the best elements of social work practices and deploying them more widely.
  • And by widening efforts to locate social workers within the community through pilot studies such as those many local police forces are currently negotiating that would see police officers working from former Post Offices, and locating more social workers in GP surgeries and schools.

Other key recommendations included:

  • An end to unpaid overtime, which would make managers think about the extra work social workers are expected to do.
  • Exploring improved caseload management strategies.
  • Restoring local authority car allowances.
  • An end to hotdesking.
  • Protection of the social worker role within multi-disciplinary teams, and exploration of how to record social work’s contribution within those teams.
  • Guidance to encourage social work involvement in NHS patient management systems.
  • The government should liaise with the Association of Chief Police Officers in taking action against those behind websites inciting hated towards social workers.

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