Social workers threaten to leave profession as cuts take their toll

Social workers say they cannot work effectively due to cuts

Published on 20th June 2019

Public sector union UNISON is calling on the government to invest in local government after the toll of cuts on social workers has been revealed.


Social workers told the union that they cannot do their job effectively as a result of years of repeated cuts which has created a crisis in the sector.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Social workers are dealing with the most vulnerable in society. When they say there are problems we all need to listen, and the government especially.

The survey of more than 1,000 social workers found that a massive 95% felt unable to do their jobs effectively because of financial cuts.

Eight out of 10 say they have to work unpaid overtime purely to keep their services going and less than one in five - just 17 per cent -report a manageable workload.

UNISON's poll found:

- More than half of social workers surveyed are thinking of leaving for jobs that would be less stressful.

- One in four social workers are working more than seven hours overtime each week.

- Eighty per cent social workers say local people aren’t receiving the help and support they need at the right time.

- More than two thirds (68%) of social workers say jobs have been cut in their department in the past two years.

- Nearly two thirds (63%) say that the council is not delivering quality services.

- Four fifths (80%) are regularly working beyond their contracted hours.

More than nine in 10 say budget cuts have let to staff morale plummeting.

UNISON says the poll demonstrates the devastating effects of the government’s cost-cutting, as key community services are now barely effective. The union urges ministers to act to put more money into local government before it is too late.

Austerity is making it harder for councils to intervene in cases early which means families can be at a crisis point before social workers become involved. And the effects of financial misery caused by changes to the benefits system have made even more people vulnerable, says UNISON.

Dave Prentis added: "These are skilled and dedicated staff who care passionately about helping families in difficult circumstances. It adds further to their stress and anxiety if they feel people down.

“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 work 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," he concluded.


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