Children’s social workers: take our survey and tell us about your caseloads

New government figures show case numbers per social worker falling slightly for the second year running – but how do yours compare, and how manageable is your workload?

Image of pressure gauge (Photo: Palo/Flickr Creative Commons)
Photo: Palo/Flickr Creative Commons

Last Friday the Department for Education published its annual children’s social work workforce statistics, which for the second year running recorded a slight fall in the average number of cases practitioners hold.

According to the government’s census, conducted each autumn, social workers practising in English local authorities held an average of 16.9 cases each as of 30 September 2019.

Broken down by local authority, social work caseloads showed significant differences, with North East Lincolnshire reporting almost 33 cases per social worker while five London boroughs said their practitioners handled fewer than 13 apiece.

But the raw numbers cannot capture the nuances of social workers’ experiences across different employers, nor how those case totals translate in terms of workloads that are manageable or not.

This week we are repeating our survey to try to find out how your experiences compare with the official averages, and what that means in terms of the impact of work on your life.

Research into social work caseloads conducted two years ago by Community Care also suggested that for many, the number of children’s and families’ cases actually handled at a given time is significantly higher than the annual data release indicates.

If you’re a practising children’s social worker, either permanent or agency and based within an English local authority or children’s services trust, we’d appreciate it if you could follow the link above take five minutes out of your week to let us know how your current situation stacks up.

The survey will run until midnight on Monday 9 March and we will publish results later that week. Thanks for your time.


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5 Responses to Children’s social workers: take our survey and tell us about your caseloads

  1. Anon. March 3, 2020 at 8:18 pm #

    Why only responses for England?! Us Welsh Social Workers matter too! Caseloads are 💯 not 12!!! Try at least 3 times that. I work part time intake CP and I have 18 children open to me.

    • Mithran Samuel
      Mithran Samuel March 3, 2020 at 9:18 pm #

      Thank you. And good point, a Welsh survey would be a good idea. It’s just because these government figures refer to England and children’s services.

  2. Kelly March 5, 2020 at 5:22 pm #

    I worked in what Ofsted deemed Outstanding LA. However they missed the hidden fact, three Social workers had cases above 50. Unfortunately I rode the wave of high cases and was dismissed. Of course the work I delivered was not to standard!
    Consequently I quit social work after 18 years.

  3. Michelle March 5, 2020 at 8:01 pm #

    Wonder which teams they surveyed…??! A referral and intake team on duty week have been taking on average of 100 children to be allocated!!! I’ve known workers with over 40 children on their caseload with difficulty in transferring them on to other LT teams or step downs!! Too much process led impacting on being able to do quality assessments within the required timeframe…

  4. A SW for too long March 9, 2020 at 9:15 pm #

    My rule is if i cannot complete the work required of me in the contracted time to complete it, I have too much work.

    Case load does not reflect complexity 1 or 2 cases could take up all of your working day whilst the other 20 coast along.

    SW should be based in the community not in the Council every school, hospital, college etc should have a team of SW on site makes information sharing quicker and would likely reduce the child/ren needing to remain in an unsafe situation.

    Make SW hours split over 7 days not 5 (not everyone is a fan) but as a parent it is hard to fit work and family time in knowing I had two days off in the week means I can go and watch my children in their plays/performances at school, there needs to be more flexibility.