More than half of social workers are considering leaving the profession for something less stressful, a survey by Unison has found.
One thousand social workers told the union their thoughts on the state of profession, with 56% saying they were thinking of quitting their roles.
Almost all (95%) of those surveyed felt they could not perform their jobs properly due to the impact of austerity.
Eight in 10, meanwhile, said local residents were not receiving the help and support they needed at the right time, which created greater crises for families further down the line.
A similar number said they were working unpaid overtime, with a quarter of those doing so for more than seven hours a week.
“Unmanageable workloads, paperwork and staff absences all contribute to the necessity of overtime – as do the time pressures of preparing reports for safeguarding meetings and courts, the challenges of dealing with clients with complex needs and emergencies that arise,” Unison’s report, Social Work At Breaking Point, said.
“Where TOIL [time off in lieu] may be available, it is sometimes impossible to take because of the heavy workloads, leaving social workers burnt-out.”
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– ‘We are fighting for funding’ – 15 examples from social workers of the impact of care cuts on people’s lives
– ‘I called my manager…the tears cut me off’: a social worker’s story of stress-related leave
– Social worker distress ‘not taken seriously enough by employers’
Fewer than one in five say workload is manageable
Other key findings from Unison’s survey included:
- 68% of social workers said jobs had been cut in their department in the past two years.
- 92% said budget cuts caused staff morale to fall.
- 35% of social workers said they were considering leaving the profession for something better paid.
- 17% say their workload is manageable.
- 30% feel secure in their jobs.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “A culture driven by targets and financial needs, combined with unmanageable workloads and financial cuts is creating problems that could tear apart communities and put vulnerable children at risk.”
“There is a crisis in social worker after almost a decade of cuts to local government. Ministers must act before the system and the people it cares for are damaged beyond repair,” Prentis said.