Another Baby P case is “waiting to happen” unless the Government addresses the excessive caseloads of social workers, employees in the sector have warned.
A poll of more than 600 social workers, by Personnel Today sister title Community Care, revealed that more than four-fifths (82%) have seen their caseloads increase over the past year.
More than one in seven (16%) reported having more than 40 cases on the go, while nearly 90% said that high caseloads are affecting their ability to practise good social work.
Hundreds of social workers gave detailed comments on their caseloads, saying that the sheer volume of work was affecting their health and practice.
“Another Baby P, Victoria Climbié or Khyra Ishaq is waiting to happen and it will unless the government does something about the excessive caseloads we are supposed to manage,” said one children’s social worker.
Another social worker, in adult services, said: “My colleagues and I in the older people’s services team are on our knees with workload pressures.”
Helga Pile, Unison officer for social workers, told Community Care: “These finding should serve as a warning to the Government and employers – the situation is unsustainable and getting worse. Excessive caseloads for social workers mean unsafe services – it’s another accident waiting to happen.”
Responding to the survey findings, a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Ministers are concerned that social workers are working against a backdrop of high caseloads, low morale and a lack of public understanding about the difficult and demanding job they do.
“It is a priority to turn around the social work profession which is why ministers have asked Professor Eileen Munro to carry out an independent review of child protection. The review will build on the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force, which the Government has committed to taking forward.”
Community Care has submitted the full results of its caseloads survey to Munro, who has said she will consider the evidence as part of her review.