Ellie Ames 25 July 2023

Workforce concerns raised in social care survey

Workforce concerns raised in social care survey  image
Image: Lipa23 / Shutterstock.com.

More evidence of workforce concerns in the children's social care sector has been brought to light in a new survey, in which around 20% of council-employed social workers said they planned to work for an agency in future.

The Big Listen project involved a survey of local authority social workers, agency workers and social work students in London and the southeast of England.

Almost 40% of respondents said they found their workload unmanageable.

The project also highlighted the ‘distinct and more negative’ experience of local authority social workers from ethnic minorities, who said they were impacted by racism and discrimination.

These workers were also more likely to cite the cost of living as a major concern and to be considering leaving their posts to work for agencies.

Jacquie Burke and Beverley Hendricks, joint strategic leads of the Association of London Directors of Children’s Services leadership in colour programme, said: ‘We have to address the structural inequalities in our workplaces that lead to black and global majority workers choosing agency over local authority employers.’

The research was carried out by the London Innovation and Improvement Alliance and the South East Sector Led Improvement Programme.

Among its positive findings, almost nine in 10 (88%) of respondents said they felt they could make a difference to children, and two thirds said they felt valued in their roles.

Mac Heath, workforce policy lead for the southeast region, said it was encouraging that many local authority employees felt positive about their role.

Mr Heath added: ‘However, there are key messages that we must listen to. We are committed to working together as councils at local, regional, and national levels to help retain and recruit the high-quality people we need.

Cllr Ian Edwards, London Councils’ executive member for Children & Young People, said: ‘The Big Listen has provided us with vital insight. Carrying out the research across the two regions has undoubtedly brought many benefits and presents a good model for future cooperation.

‘We’re grateful to all those who shared their views as part of the Big Listen. Now we’re determined to show that those views have been heard as we develop our workforce strategy.’

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