BASW launches ‘Respect for Social Work’ campaign in bid to improve working conditions

The campaign is launched in partnership with the Social Workers Union and is calling for eight changes to improve the profession

Photo: Gustavo Frazao/Fotolia

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has launched a new campaign to try to improve working conditions in the profession.

The ‘Respect for Social Work’ campaign will involve lobbying MPs in Parliament and upcoming party conferences to raise awareness about the workforce issues facing social workers on the frontline, BASW said.

BASW will work in partnership with the Social Workers Union (SWU) to address issues raised in research published in July, which found social workers were working through illness to keep on top of caseloads and had worked a total of £600 million in unpaid overtime in the past year.

It said the current working conditions for social workers had led to high sickness levels, with many professionals identifying high caseloads and a lack of support as problems facing them on a daily basis.


Ruth Allen, chief executive of BASW, said the key elements for success in social work were access to professional supervision, manageable caseloads, good leadership, fair pay and reduced bureaucracy.

At the campaign launch today, BASW will call for eight changes for social workers:

  1. Treat social workers like professionals who have solutions as well as legitimate concerns.
  2. End unmanageable workloads to reduce stress and attrition rates by employing more social workers, ensuring good caseload management and enable flexible working and smarter use of technology.
  3. Ensure time for reflective supervision to work through complex cases.
  4. Ensure all social workers have access to good continuing professional development.
  5. Ensure social workers’ managers have completed relevant training for their job.
  6. Provide administrative support to enable social workers to focus on people they serve.
  7. Lift the public pay cap for social workers, as for other public professionals.
  8. Ensure social workers have independent professional support, through their professional body and other resources.

Both BASW and the SWU said they would achieve their aims by lobbying MPs, speaking to MPs at both Labour and Conservative party conferences holding a demonstration against austerity, documenting the voices of social workers, and raising awareness about the issues on social media.

The campaign has been endorsed by Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham. She said: “I don’t think people realise the incredible work social workers do, day in – day out, to support vulnerable people, hold fragile families together or make sure the country’s children are safe.

“They are unsung heroes and that’s why I am supporting this campaign.”

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9 Responses to BASW launches ‘Respect for Social Work’ campaign in bid to improve working conditions

  1. londonboy September 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    ..and when you are thinking of the next campaign perhaps you could consider ‘Respect for Families’?

    • LongtimeSW September 22, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

      londonboy – that is a two-way street – how about respect for Families AND Social Work?

      • Jonathan Ritchie September 23, 2017 at 1:50 pm #

        As social workers you have no right to respect. You have to earn it.

        Your job title is “social worker”, so what? Your job title does not mean you are entitled to be respected for it. The days of deference to roles and titles have long gone.

  2. LongtimeSW September 22, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

    Maybe we can start by respecting ourselves a bit more

    – refuse to do extra hours

    – book and take TOIL/demand paid overtime beyond 37/38 hours a week

    – refuse to take on extra cases insisting that all unallocated cases are brought to the attention of senior managers on the big salaries to deal with by employing more social workers

    – point out employers responsibilities under Codes of Practice

    – refuse to engage with the privatisation of services (which start with so-called back office functions)

    – remind the critics that there are 5.8 million public service workers who all pay taxes all pay NI unlike some of the politicians with secret overseas accounts and tax dodges let alone expense fiddling and baling out greedy bankers

    Stand up for ourselves and don’t be bullied – they need you more than you need them if we stick together

    • Too old for this stuff September 26, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

      SWs need to work to rule

  3. londonboy September 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

    ..thinking along these lines…

  4. Hels September 22, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

    Could it be considered that the Social work union, is recognised by the country’s various Local Authorities?????

  5. belinda September 23, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

    Until there is trust there can be no respect. Social Workers have destroyed at least 3 families I know, including my own on the basis of lies.. If SW want respect, those who have a moral compass need to speak up against those who don’t. There are far too many SW out there who lie for an easy life and families destroyed on those lies that many lawyers refuse to challenge to protect their SW caseloads

  6. Hilton Dawson September 25, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

    These are all completely sensible points but the focus of campaigning should be every local authority, using local examples, driven by local staff, then go after the LGA later in the Autumn.
    These important messages will be lost at Party Conferences & amongst all the lobbying of Parliament.