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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Proposals on social workers ‘likely to worsen staff shortages’

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Commenting on proposals to introduce national rules on the use of agency child and family social workers, REC chief executive Neil Carberry says:

“The staffing shortage in social work needs to be addressed, including through tackling the underlying funding crisis. But these proposals will do the opposite. Banning workers from freely choosing who they work for and ending team-based service delivery will damage services and drive people out of social work. A sensible framework to maintain quality and reduce unnecessary costs would be a far better choice. These proposals are likely to worsen staff shortages and burnout, underpin a lack of flexibility for staff and embed high caseloads. They treat skilled social workers as a commodity, rather than engaging with them as professionals.

“This is not a sustainable nor a long-term approach. We need proper workforce planning, rooted in partnership, that supports the supply and training of both permanent and temporary staff, recognising the value of agencies and agency workers that the sector cannot do without.

“We know many people choose to do agency work to enjoy the flexibility and working conditions – this has not been addressed in the government’s proposal. The sector needs to understand why people prefer to work via an agency. Without this, we are just scraping the surface of the staffing problems.

“The REC has been engaging with the Department for Education on these issues in recent months and we look forward to opening up a more positive conversation with a view to explore sustainable, realistic steps that work for service users, first and foremost.” 



Notes to editors:

This morning DfE launched a consultation into social worker framework.

This consultation invites views on a set of national rules on the engagement of agency social work resource covering:

  • price caps on what local authorities may pay for an agency worker
  • post-qualified experience needed for an agency assignment
  •  use of project teams
  • references, notice periods, and movement between agency and substantive roles
  • collection and sharing of pay and agency data
  • adherence of procurement routes with the national rules

For more information and interview enquiries, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157, 020 7009 2129 or Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.

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