Council social workers offered ‘full and final’ £1,925 pay rise for 2023-24

Increase matches 2022-23 rise and is worth between 3.9% to 6.4% to social work staff but falls far short of unions' claim

Close-up of woman's hands with calculator and utility bills. The concept of rising prices for heating, gas, electricity. A lot of utility bills and hands in a warm sweater on a calculator
Photo: Anna/Adobe Stock

Would you support social workers joining public sector professionals in striking over pay this year?

  • Yes (83%, 2,146 Votes)
  • No (13%, 328 Votes)
  • Don't know (4%, 112 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,586

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Council leaders have offered social workers and other care staff in England and Wales a £1,925 pay rise for 2023-24, matching last year’s increase but well below unions’ claim.

Employers said the proposal was their “full and final pay offer” and that it would put additional pressure on already tight budgets.

The £1,925 rise would apply to staff earning up to £49,950 in the majority of councils in England and Wales – those covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services (NJC) agreement. Staff earning more than this would receive a 3.88% boost, which is worth more than £1,925 in cash terms.

Offer worth up to 6.4% for social workers

For social workers, the deal would be worth up to 6.4%, an increase that would apply to newly qualified practitioners on NJC pay point 23, earning £30,151.

Such an increase is well below the current rate of inflation, which was 10.1% in the year to January 2023. However, the government has said that inflation is due to average about 5.5% in 2023-24, meaning the deal could constitute a real-terms increase in pay for at least some social workers.

The offer is well below the 12.7% hike claimed by the three local government unions, UNISON – which represents an estimated 40,000 social workers – the GMB and Unite.

However, the employers said they would go no higher.

The chair of the National Employers for local government services, Sian Goding, said: “The National Employers are acutely aware of the additional pressure this year’s offer will place on already hard-pressed council finances, as it would need to be paid for from existing budgets. However, they believe their offer is fair to employees, given the wider economic backdrop.”

Workforce pressures grow ever more severe

The rise comes as already significant workforce pressures within local authority social work grow ever more severe.

Latest data in relation to council adult social workers in England shows that:

  • Pay fell in the decade to September 2022.
  • The vacancy rate rose to 11.6%, up from 9.5% in September 2021 and 7.5% in 2022.
  • Turnover in the year to September 2022 increased to 17.1%, a record level, up from 15% in 2020-21 and 13.6% in 2019-20.
  • Days lost to sickness averaged 12.1 per social worker in 2021-22, another record and up from 10.3 the year before.
  • The number of social workers employed by councils was stable year on year, at 17,300, as was the number of full-time equivalent posts (15,600).

The situation appears even worse in children’s services, according to the DfE’s annual workforce census, released today. This showed that:

  • 31,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) children’s social workers were in post in English councils as of September 2022, down 2.7% on the year before.
  • 820 of the 868 lost posts were in case holding roles – those that held cases but were not a senior practitioner or manager.
  • There were 14,910 case holding posts as of September 2022, down by 5.2% since September 2021 and 7.6% since September 2020.
  • The average caseload was 16.6, as measured by the DfE, up from 16.3 the year before.
  • One in five (20%) of posts were vacant, up from 16.7% in September 2021.
  • 18% of posts were held by agency workers, up from 15.5% as of September 2021.

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32 Responses to Council social workers offered ‘full and final’ £1,925 pay rise for 2023-24

  1. AB February 24, 2023 at 2:32 pm #

    Does this apply to all councils?

    • Mithran Samuel February 24, 2023 at 3:11 pm #

      Thanks for that.
      It applies to the majority of councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (those covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services). Others set their own deals.

  2. CrispY February 24, 2023 at 2:54 pm #

    Where the DfE keep pulling these figures from about caseloads I have no idea; far from the reality of my own experience in recent years. In other news, another pay rise which actually leaves me slightly more out of pocket compared to the rise in living and childcare costs, seemingly justified by an overly-optimistic estimate of inflation figures moving forward.

  3. Liz February 24, 2023 at 3:08 pm #

    This is a blanket offer, the difference between team management and social workers wages are becoming so close that some senior social workers will be earning the same and more than managers. Some workers without the social work qualification will be earning what social workers receive.
    Could not agree more that this process can work when there are gapping disparities in wages, however this is not OK and. % rise is the fair and equitable way to complete this process?

    • Karen February 24, 2023 at 6:14 pm #

      Some senior practitioners may be more experienced than managers and may be doing very complex work? I am a manager and I would not begrudge an experienced senior practitioner earning similar to myself.

  4. Michelle February 24, 2023 at 3:39 pm #

    Why are the statistics always focused around children’s services?

  5. TheanonymousSW February 24, 2023 at 3:59 pm #

    Generally I dont think 2x£1925.00 pay rises are that bad.
    Could be much worse, like it has been for the past ten years.

    I’ll bite

    • Joe McC March 1, 2023 at 10:28 am #

      How can 2x£1,925.00 not be that bad? Do a quick calculation. For me on my wage it was 4.5% last year and less than that this year. Inflation is running at 10%+ so another two years of pay cuts. I have a family member who works in the private sector. We used to have a comparative wage but her wage is now £8,000 more than mine.

  6. Kirk Gareth Hawksworth February 24, 2023 at 5:04 pm #

    I’m sorry, but this is such a simplistic view of how inflation affects the pay of staff. With inflation running at 10%, then expected to fall to 5.5%, it doesn’t mean that staff getting a 6.3% rise will see a real terms pay increase. The cost of living has ALREADY risen by 10%. It is forecast to continue rising at a further 5.5%. This doesn’t mean the cost of living will fall, as it will CONTINUE TO RISE. A 6.3% increase is still a reduction in real terms.

    • Andrew Reece February 25, 2023 at 11:22 am #

      Well done for correcting the shocking lack of numeracy from Community Care. @mithran Samuel should amend the misleading section of the article

      • Mithran Samuel February 25, 2023 at 5:40 pm #

        Thanks Andrew and Kirk. I appreciate your comments.
        Just to clarify, I was making a comparison between the possible increase in pay, in percentage terms, in 2023-24 (1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024), with the estimated average rate of inflation during the same period.
        As you rightly say, Kirk, this doesn’t compensate for the rise in the cost of living up to that point and, as we’ve reported before, the 2022-23 deal was a real-terms cut (as have been several before that, since 2010).

        It’s just a reference to the possible real-terms wage change during the 12-month period from 1 April this year.

    • Sam Baeza February 25, 2023 at 1:27 pm #

      Absolutely Kirk. This is a message that needs to be hammered home

  7. Nick A February 24, 2023 at 6:03 pm #

    I spent over 10 years on front line child protection, across two authorities my average caseload never fell below 20 children, and in one team I was allocated close to 50 children across nearly 30 families. I stepped away from social work because this was unmanageable and dangerous. I also found that at times I was asked to do things that were the antithesis of what I became a social worker for. Money wasn’t why I became a social worker, however with unpaid overtime almost a requisite of cp work the ridiculous funding for social workers and lack of investment in allied services the sense of being underfunded underpaid and definitely undervalued was demoralizing to say the least, any offer that would still leave me below a fair wage isn’t likely to tempt either myself or any other worker back into this essential role

  8. Lin Newton February 24, 2023 at 11:42 pm #

    As per last year this is a pay cut basically being put forward by a cabinet of millionaires! Money to bomb various countries but not for essential public sector workers. Get real people and join the fight back.

  9. Charlie February 25, 2023 at 11:05 am #

    It’s a disgrace. Senior chancellors are splitting up fat checks. In the LA I work for 5 people slit 5 millions between themselves in pay and pension contributions for doing f all, whereas people on the front line are left to feed off the crumbs under the table. My caseload has not gone down below 25 but then quickly goes up to 30 children as soon as I close a family.

    The Tory government looted public services between 2010 and 2020, now is the decade of selling them off. Run down to sell cheap. Old trick, unfortunately still working nowadays.

    • Kevin February 25, 2023 at 8:23 pm #

      Why do we need to strike, working to rule would have far greater impact.

  10. Graeme Hendry February 25, 2023 at 10:15 pm #

    Well done to the care community for saying that this has gone on long enough!
    Totally support all the real workers who are finally standing up against the workshy government mouthpieces who do absolutely nothing to help anyone but themselves.
    Absolutely behind you.

  11. LA February 26, 2023 at 12:21 am #

    If anything, my mortgage has more than doubled in the last few months. How are we supposed to stay afloat whilst we as Social Workers still see ourselves as “I am not doing the job for the money”. Surely, we need the roof over our heads and petrol price hike to do all the travelling we do (mostly unclaimed mileage) as never a moment to spare to do claims form on top of the mountain of paperwork and high caseloads we are saddled with in Children’s Services?

  12. John McDermott February 26, 2023 at 8:54 am #

    Not enough. 13 years of Austerity and pay cuts. Services slashed. Cost of living through the roof. They are having a laugh. I won’t just be making referrals to food banks for Service Users if things don’t improve. We fight for Social Justice for our Service Users its about time we did it for ourselves.

    • Miss P March 7, 2023 at 7:11 am #

      I totally agree with your comments. I have worked for the NHS and vowed to never strike. However, 2010/2011 as a social worker saw me strike for the first in my life. I have been a social worker for more than 20 yrs, and I have seen my wages decrease over the yrs. We have to stand up to this government and support each other as professionals to demand not just fair pay but what we deserve. Yes enough is enough, would I strike hell yes.

  13. Nikki February 27, 2023 at 12:39 pm #

    Unfortunately, in my council, we are also being given the pay rise as stated, however, workers are losing their increase relating to TCP (performance related pay). So my increase is just over £500 less than if I were to be receiving my TCP related pay and is the same as others who are not seen to be performing at the same standard. Surely a fairer way would be to provide the national increase, and then top up, if required, following TCP ratings, to the full amount earned? This would still provide some pay related recognition of the hard work many of us put in every day in our role.

  14. Harvey Campbell February 27, 2023 at 4:06 pm #

    It may be final but I very much doubt it’s full.

  15. Trevor March 1, 2023 at 10:48 am #

    In our LA we are already struggling to recruit which is a symptom of uncompetitive pay in local government.

    Last years pay award, and now the offer for this year, is making this worse as there is a significant condensing of the bands of pay meaning that recruits and internal staff are much less willing to take on the additional responsibility and stress of higher demand roles as the comparative pay does not compensate for it.

    I appreciate why this was done last year and as a one-off can accept it but applying another flat amount increase across the board again this year is going to cause more problems going forward for LA’s.

    In my view the offer should be a percentage rate increase of 6-7% for all staff and a one-off payment of £200-£400 for staff on lower grades. This would mean lower grades get additional support without harming recruitment going forward.

  16. Boba F March 1, 2023 at 11:33 am #

    Firstly, it isn’t enough. Secondly, I am all for everyone having a pay increase but surely a fairer system is to give a percentage rise rather than a set amount.
    The gaps between different roles in terms of pay are getting smaller and smaller, which makes it even less attractive to take on more responsibility and risk?!

  17. K. Fern March 1, 2023 at 4:53 pm #

    The article refers to ‘and care staff’, so is this rise proposed for all social care, or social workers specifically?

    • Mithran Samuel March 1, 2023 at 7:53 pm #

      Sorry for the lack of clarity. We emphasise ‘social workers’ in headlines/stories as they/you are our core readers. But we know we are read by others working in social care too so that’s why care staff were mentioned in the article.
      This offer is for anyone, regardless of role, employed by any local authority that is part of the National Joint Council for Local Government Services. This covers all but 50 or so of the local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland including a large majority of the 174 authorities in England and Wales with responsibility for social services.

      • K. Fern March 6, 2023 at 10:30 am #

        Thank you for clarifying. Appreciate it ?

  18. OF March 1, 2023 at 11:02 pm #

    A previous contributor stated that this offer was better than nothing. In part I’m in agreement. But I also think that the current pressures & workloads need to be recognised by the government.
    But as an unqualified worker, who works solely on Duty, dealing with all types of cases on a daily basis, mitigating risk and sourcing services. I’m also conscious that there many unqualified workers with years of experience that are not financially recognised for the work they do, case load held or experience.

  19. Paul March 2, 2023 at 6:46 pm #

    So this offer is for all council staff? Etc council tax officers?

    • Mithran Samuel March 2, 2023 at 6:48 pm #

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for that – yes, it’s for council-employed staff in any local authority (in England, Wales and NI) covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services.

  20. Frasierfanclub1 March 4, 2023 at 4:40 pm #

    I have said for years that MPs should be getting the same pay rises as the rest of the public sector. They might think twice about being stingy if they are getting the same.

  21. Mary March 25, 2023 at 1:34 am #

    When will this of increase make its way onto my payslip