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MPs to hear about social workers’ poor working conditions following BASW-SWU lobbying

Following continuous lobbying efforts, BASW and SWU’s Respect for social workers: the campaign for professional working conditions will be debated in parliament on Wednesday 16th May.

The House of Lords will hear a debate bought forward by Lord Kennedy of Southwark, who will ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the recent report Social Workers – Working Conditions and Wellbeing by Dr Jermaine Ravalier, what strategies they have considered to alleviate the working demands faced by social workers.

The report was independently produced by Dr Ravalier and Bath Spa University, commissioned by SWU and BASW last July. It unveiled an alarming picture of the poor working conditions experienced by social workers which led to BASW and SWU co-launching the Campaign for professional working conditions in order to affect positive change.

Dr. Ravalier’s research was the first to look solely at the wellbeing of social workers, and a standout finding was that 52% of UK social workers intend to leave the profession within 18 months due to burn out, increasing to 55% for social workers working specifically in children's services.

Over 1200 social workers participated and overwhelmingly named the same triggers for this burn out: unmanageable caseloads, not enough resources to deal with them effectively and too little professional support in the workplace

Ruth Allen, CEO BASW said: “It is absolutely essential that we work to create decent working contexts for social workers where they can make the difference to people’s lives they want to make and develop their skills.

“We know the key elements of success: access to professional supervision, manageable caseloads, good leadership and management, fair pay and careers, reduced unnecessary bureaucracy, time to spend with individuals and families, and access to ongoing professional development and wellbeing support. 

“I have been pleased with the supportive dialogue with parliamentarians across the political spectrum. We now need to turn dialogue into action with employers and policy makers.”

SWU general secretary John McGowan added: “The research by Dr Ravalier has already made significant steps to raise the awareness of the difficulties faced by social workers and the impact on their wellbeing. It is now extremely important to build on the outcomes of this work, keep up the momentum and look for tangible, feasible changes which can improve on working conditions for UK social workers.

“I am delighted to see this being debated in the Lords and I have recently enjoyed presenting the results with Dr Ravalier to social workers and hearing personally the pressures faced day in and day out by practitioners, sadly agreeing with the findings.”