The government has said it will regulate the food eaten by social workers in a bid to improve wellbeing under shock plans tabled this week.
Ministers believe the key to solving burnout, high caseloads and turnover lies in enforcing a reduction in the sugary content eaten by frontline social workers.
The plans, announced by the minister for not letting you have nice things, Peter Ian Staker, said this was the government acting to improve social work working conditions.
“We’ve read the results of employee surveys, been on visits, and have concluded that this is the most evidence-based way to improve social work productivity,” Staker explained.
He added the move came after he witnessed social workers taking a break from work to wish a colleague happy birthday over some red velvet cake.
“It is clear to us that eating the worst of the cakes named after the worst of the textures is harming productivity and wellbeing.”
The government believes the plans will put an end to the 3pm-4pm ‘drowsy time’ where the combination of tea and cake make social workers less efficient and is thus causing a pile up in caseloads.
“We can see no other reason for the increase in demand and must look at ways to improve effectiveness through diets.”
Industry experts have said the move could ruin local supermarkets, who rely on social workers buying sugary treats to get through the day for 87% of their revenue.
Fruit will also be hit by the plans, Staker explained, as his diet tracker had informed him apples were high in sugar.
“It is clear that flavour is the enemy of productivity, and we must find evidence-based ways to prevent that.”
Plans for a new research centre focused on social work eating habits were also unveiled by Staker. Its role will be to evaluate the evidence of what foods do and don’t improve productivity and come to no clear conclusions about it, Staker explained.
He added how £4 million will be invested in ‘WaistLine’, a social work training provider targeting people who didn’t like sugar in a bid to bring the “best and the lightest” into the profession.
April Loof, head of the UK Association of Social Workers, said it would consult with its members over the plans but refused to criticise the government’s policy.
“Who likes red velvet cake, honestly? Why say it’s ‘just chocolate’ and then not just buy a chocolate cake? Also, Janine from the policy department brought in ginger nuts as a ‘treat’ and I’ve come to the view people just can’t be trusted to feed themselves anymore.”