BASW has launched a social work campaign calling for improved working conditions for social workers.
The ‘Respect for Social Work’ campaign was launched after the recent UK Social Workers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing study revealed that more than half of social workers questioned intend to leave social work within 15 months.
The study, by Bath Spa University’s Dr. Jermaine Ravalier in conjunction with the BASW and Social Workers’ Union unveiled an alarming picture of ‘spun out’ social workers at risk of leaving the job they love due to the high demands placed on them in a culture of austerity cuts.
The research found 52% of UK social workers intend to leave the profession within 15 months with the figure increasing to 55% for social workers working specifically in children's services. Over 70% of social workers surveyed cited high, unmanageable caseloads, a lack of professional and peer support and burdensome red-tape and bureaucracy as the main reasons for leaving.
On behalf of BASW, Mike Bush said: “A burnt-out social worker is no good to anyone. Nobody is winning from this situation. We need to address this now and it would be wise for the government to listen to what BASW and SWU are saying and take heed of the solutions they recommend,” he added.
The ‘Respect for Social Work’ campaign is calling for an end to unmanageable workloads, relevant training, access to CPD, good supervision, flexible working and smarter use of technology in a bid to curb social workers from fleeing the profession. There should be administrative support for social workers so they can focus on their service users.
BASW and SWU are also calling for social workers to be treated like professionals who have solutions as well as legitimate concerns. They want the public pay cap lifted for social workers, as for other public professionals and to ensure social workers have independent professional support, through their professional body (BASW) and other resources, readily accessible through various touch points such as a 'hotline'.
BASW will be discussing the issues with MPs at the upcoming Labour and Conservative party conferences, with MPs and Peers in Parliament and with employers at the National Directors’ Conference in October.