Social workers from 22 bodies to develop resources to cut workloads

Network of councils will work with DfE-convened group to identify solutions to 'unnecessary' drivers of workload pressures, including in relation to caseload management and supervision

Post-it notes on a wall with the word 'workload' in the foreground
Photo: iconimage/Adobe Stock

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Social workers and managers from 22 organisations are to help develop and test resources designed to cut workloads among children’s practitioners.

They will work with the Department for Education (DfE) appointed national workload action group (NWAG) to identify and quality assure solutions to ‘unnecessary’ drivers of workload.

The work of the review, testing and implementation network (RTIN), which comprises 21 councils and one children’s trust (see below), will cover areas including caseload management, supervision, cutting bureaucracy and the working environment.

The DfE set up the NWAG last year, as part of its children’s social care reforms, with a mission “identify unnecessary workload pressures…and recommend solutions to address them”.

It includes representatives from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), British Association of Social Workers (BASW), Principal Children and Families Social Worker (PCFSW) Network, Ofsted, Social Work England,  UNISON and several councils.

Since then, the group, supported by a DfE-commissioned consortium comprising Research in Practice, Essex County Council and King’s College London, has been working to identify and prioritise ideas on cutting workload.

From next month, following feedback on the proposals from the department, NWAG and the consortium will work with the RTIN practitioners and managers to develop and test resources. People with lived experience will also be involved in the work.

The finalised resources will be  published on the DfE website later this year.

Review testing and implementation network (RTIN) members

  • Birmingham Children’s Trust
  • Blackpool Council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Cornwall Council
  • Derby City Council
  • Doncaster City Council
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council
  • Kent County Council
  • Lancashire County Council
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • London Borough of Croydon
  • London Borough of Newham
  • London Borough of Sutton
  • London Borough of Wandsworth
  • Luton Council
  • Newcastle City Council
  • North Tyneside Council
  • North Yorkshire Council
  • Oldham Council
  • Salford City Council
  • Wiltshire Council

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10 Responses to Social workers from 22 bodies to develop resources to cut workloads

  1. Social Worker May 9, 2024 at 10:48 pm #

    Would it not be more helpful to do the unthinkable and properly consider that there aren’t enough social workers and DfE and DHSC have no coherent national social work strategy, and it is that, not other issues, that is causing workload issues?

    In a country where the abject poverty experienced by millions of people is a overt, political choice made by the few, that we need more social workers now more than ever before should not be a surprise to anyone.

    The workload strategy that some feel is needed here, is in fact a workforce strategy, coupled with a commitment to help those in society who have being disenfranchised, besmirched and castigated as the problem.

    • Tom May 11, 2024 at 10:24 pm #

      Totally agree. The problem is a lack of Social Workers due to increased demand due to ongoing cuts in services and reliance on projects that are not sustained due to lack of funding. Reducing bureaucracy, releasing time are by-words for we need you to work harder with no more money…but we will waste a massive amount of money, time and resources making it look like we are doing things whilst allowing the stress levels to carry on. After 25 years as a qualified Senior Social Worker I am opting out. Rather work for Aldi or any Supermarket chain. They treat their staff better than any Social Service does now.

  2. Anonymous May 10, 2024 at 6:09 am #

    There is the same issue in adults too…

  3. Gerald May 10, 2024 at 7:34 am #

    Oh the irony of asking social workers to take on additional work to look at how to reduce workloads. Social work leadership summed up. Its not as if we don’t actually know what the unnecessary bureaucracy is, impact of vacancies are, “tweaks and reorganisations” are, management fads are, SWE nonsense is, negative impact of PSWs spuriously justifying their role is, looking after students and ASYE on top of a caseload is. Spend the money on recruitment, on training competent managers, skill up supervisors to actually listen to rather than off load their anxieties about waiting times on to us. It really isn’t that complicated. Unless of course this is the usual cynical ploy to maintain the status quo while pretending to look for solutions. I’ve just bet a colleague that if there is just one new recommendation that comes from this rather than the rehashing of what social workers have said for years, I’ll buy her cat a new toy. Fully confident my money is safe.

  4. Steve May 10, 2024 at 3:08 pm #

    Classic Tory tactic. Commission a review into a tricky issue thereby kicking it into the long grass. When the commission reports back, just ignore the recommendations safe in the knowledge that everyone has moved on. It’s genius really

  5. Paul John May 10, 2024 at 6:29 pm #

    Where is the Adult, Mental Health, NHS Trust, and Learning Disabilities representation?

    • Joe May 10, 2024 at 9:41 pm #

      Well said Paul

    • Lee May 11, 2024 at 9:04 am #

      Don’t be silly now, we all know real social work happens anywhere but in NHS Trusts, with Adults,
      people with Mental Health conditions or those with Learning Disabilities. We should sit back, forget we’ve been ignored and learn from our betters what proper social workers do and how it’s done. The total pointlessness of Adult PSWs exemplified.

  6. Simon Cardy May 11, 2024 at 10:21 am #

    Although UNISON are represented, where is there any sense of ‘lived experience’ being included? This initiative is overrun by employer organisations who will drive it in their interests. Neither is the research and academic community represented, not that will necessarily help as there is such a dearth of knowledge (with some notable exceptions ) as to what constitutes a ‘unmanageable’ caseload, how many hours are worked over contract, how many hours of TOIL are never claimed, what is the impact of ‘intensity’ and KPIs? And so on. If, as I suspect, NWAG is modelled on the Teachers Workload Toolkit, expect fierce resistance from employer organisations. In teaching workloads the DfE reported back in 2016, 2018 and more recently 2024 where there were are at least few signs of hope to eliminate 23 non teaching tasks and ending Performance Related Pay. Concepts like ‘caseload limits’ seem as far away now as they did 30 years ago. Don’t expect anything progress anytime soon.

  7. Melanie Adegbite May 13, 2024 at 3:20 pm #

    Please!!! powers that be listen to what social workers on the ground are saying. Unless you do this, it will continue to be a beuraucratic cycle and experience will continue to leave the profession in droves. Social work is an incredible profession so lets fix the parts that need it, to create something that we can feel is much prouder of, and a vocation that is more workable. I, as well as many colleagues in tbe field whi is willing to speak up, have constructive solutions. The question is, do the decision makers truely want to hear what ee have to say or is it just another PR exercise to half heartedly present a story that will cause furthur beaurocracy.

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