BASW and SWU, in partnership with Bath Spa University are leading a campaign for improved working conditions for social workers.

The latest research findings (August 2018) were launched in 2018.

BASW and SWU have continued to speak out in the media on the issue of working conditions for social workers.

SWU and BASW recently launched the Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions good practice toolkit (June 2020)

In December 2019 we launched the BASW UK manifesto which calls for action to support social workers.  This includes a call to tackle poor working conditions and unfeasibly high workloads of  social workers

Following the government election in December 2019 we wrote to all new government ministers and MPs calling for support for the BASW UK social work manifesto and to ask for meetings to discuss it.

We are continuing to lobby ministers, grow media interest and build awareness and influence with the research which shows that social workers are strongly engaged in their work and want the very best outcomes for people that use services, but they are hampered by poor working conditions and a lack of resources. 

Following the research, The International Federation of Social Workers is leading further research to create a global understanding of the realities of the working conditions of social workers.

BASW/SWU held a Parliamentary reception on 27th November 2018 and asked MPs to pledge their support for social workers. Over 20 MPs made a commitment at BASW/SWU’s parliament event to pledge their support for social workers.

Support the campaign 

  • Use this letter template to ask your local MP to pledge their support for social workers and ask for a meeting where you live.
  • If you are not sure who your MP is, then you can find out here by using your postcode.  You can find your MPs email address here too.
  • Share the campaign flyer in your workplace and with colleagues
  • Show your support on social media #UKsocialwork and let us know the action you take.

2018 survey findings - summary

3,421 social workers contributed to the August 2018 survey, almost three times more than that completed the first Working Conditions and Wellbeing survey in 2017. 

  • Compared to the UK average, working conditions were worse than 90%-95% of other employees in both public and private sector occupations,
  • Nearly half of all social workers are also dissatisfied in their jobs,
  • Two thirds have attended work while ill at least twice in the last year,
  • Social workers worked an average of 64 days per year more than they are contracted to (an average of 11 hours per week)
  • 60% looking to leave their current job within the next 15 months compared to 52% last year
  • Nearly 40% respondents looking to leave the profession entirely
  • The main stressors were high case and administrative loads, and lack of resources for service users.


Social workers need positive professional working conditions to provide the best services

  • Strong leadership to manage the demand on social workers
  • Management training for social work managers
  • Reduce stress and provide wellbeing support     
  • Professional development
  • Time for reflective supervision to work through complex cases
  • Manageable caseloads and a consistent approach to caseload allocation
  • Employ more social workers
  • Reverse the blame culture and give social workers respect and positive support.
  • Flexible and remote working through improved technology         
  • 80/20 quality time with individuals and families
  • Fair pay and careers

How you can help


  • Share your good practice and learning for great services
  • Assess your services against the standards for employers of Social Workers across the UK.
  • Use the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) to develop your teams in England
  • Professional development and wellbeing support – contact BASW to find out how we can help support your social work leaders, managers and teams


  • Write to the Chancellor, Ministers for Education, Health and CLG requesting that social work is properly funded and resourced to retain the workforce and protect vulnerable children and adults.
  • Meet with representatives of the SWU and BASW in your area to hear more about their work lives and understand the work they do with vulnerable people.
  • Request a debate or Select Committee inquiry into the impact of cuts on social services.
  • Join the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work.

Around the UK

SASW members

Find out what SASW are doing as part of the campaign.

BASW Cymru

Find out what BASW Cymru are doing as part of the campaign.

BASW Northern Ireland

Find out what BASW Northern Ireland are doing as part of the campaign.

BASW England

Launched the 80-20 campaign to improve working conditions for social workers and drive better outcomes for children.

BASW/SWU, in partnership with Bath Spa University Research into the working conditions of social workers was first launched in June 2017.