Social Work Media – making sense of it…Social Work
There are some hot topics under discussion with regards to Social Work in the UK and Public Spending cuts at the moment, here are some of the interesting points I have taken from the news this week and would really value your thoughts on these bold statements:
BASW Article: Fears over the cap on overseas social work recruitment
‘The current employment of internationally educated social workers has raised the expectation of employers as to the appropriate education and skills levels needed from our UK educated social workers,’ says BASW’s submission, which drew on a number of real-life examples from BASW members who responded to a request for frontline views on the impact of overseas social workers in the UK.
One children’s services manager said that practitioners from New Zealand and Australia had far superior academic qualifications than domestically trained staff and were more committed to continuing professional development.
My feelings are that a lot of the overseas trained social workers bring valued skills and experience – we have only received glowing references for social workers from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. It’s such a pitty that it’s becoming harder and harder to get visa’s to come and work in the UK – particularly for South Africans. Any views on the potential caps on recruiting overseas Social Workers?
BASW teams up with new ITV breakfast show
BASW is teaming up with ITV’s new flagship breakfast programme Daybreak, which launched today, to undertake a major survey of social workers, timed to coincide with the publication of professor Eileen Munro’s initial report on reducing the bureaucracy in children’s services. – I will definitely be watching this…
BASW has this week written to every local authority in England urging council leaders to spare frontline social work services from spending cuts. Some really positive action by BASW, we hope to see a difference soon as the jobs have really reduced if you compare to last year – there must be other areas to save money within the public sector without reducing too many frontline positions?
This was an article that really got me thinking … please see my comments below..
Community Care Writes –
Agency social workers could be costing councils £70m a year more than if permanent staff were employed to perform the same roles, Community Care can reveal.
More than one in 10 council posts is filled by an agency or temporary worker, our exclusive Freedom of Information investigation has shown.
Each agency worker costs an estimated £14,400 a year more than a newly-qualified, permanent member of staff, according to research by Sefton Council in Merseyside, cited by the Department of Health. If the permanent salaries were higher, there wouldn’t be so many Social Workers choosing to work through an agency.
Trade union Unison condemned “the millions being wasted on agency fees” as a “tragedy”, but employers defended the use of agency staff as a vital measure to tackle high vacancy rates. We have had teams coming to us when they’re desperate for Social Workers to hit the ground running – this is because front line permanent staff aren’t coping with their huge caseloads. The increased pressure on permanent social workers will surely lead to an increase in sick leave – experienced Agency Social Workers very rarely take sick leave and are able to cope with complex caseloads taking the pressure off the teams.
“While we would seek to minimise the use of agency staff, there are circumstances in which we have to use them in order to maintain essential services,” said John Nawrockyi, secretary of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ workforce development network.
“Better to use agency staff than not to allocate a social worker to a child in care or to pick up safely adults’ and children’s safeguarding referrals.”
The vacancy rate in social work teams is 10.4%, Community Care reported last week. The figure is higher in children’s services, where more agency staff are used.
“Many agency staff are highly skilled and much sought-after to manage short-term staff shortages and pressures. While retention remains low, they are a necessary, if often expensive part of the system,” said Howard Cooper, chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ workforce development policy committee.
But Cooper admitted that the use of agency staff could have a negative effect on the long-term operations of social work teams.
“[It could] hinder the development of a committed and stable team and make it more difficult to offer children and their families a stable relationship with an individual social worker,” he said.
Unison has urged councils to stop the “revolving door” of agency and temporary social workers passing through departments. “It is a tragedy that millions are wasted on agency fees to plug shortages of social workers,” said Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social workers.
“Filling posts with permanent social workers would provide continuity of care to children and vulnerable adults.
“It would also allow staff to build up long term experience.”
In Lambeth Council, London, agency social workers are encouraged to take up permanent posts.
“It may be a sign of the times but more social workers are now seeking more secure employment than previously,” said Jo Cleary, Lambeth’s executive director of adults and community services.
Other local approaches to tackling the over-reliance on agency staff include golden hellos for newly qualified social workers.
Community Care surveyed all councils in England, Wales and Scotland, and health and social care trust in Northern Ireland. In the 148 out of 211 bodies that provided responses a total of 3,400 agency social workers were employed. Using the DH’s cost analysis and applying average agency staff figures to the remaining councils, the projected expenditure on agency workers over the cost of permanent staff was just under £70m per year.
We agree that there are savings to be made, however there are a lot of area’s that need to be evaluated and considered. I do believe that the council’s receive value for money when they take on one of our Locum Social Workers – some of our Social Workers have been in placements for longer than 6 month’s which is a clear indication of the value that they’re adding to the team. The key area to address is the big difference between ‘permanent salaries’ and ‘locum salaries’. If there wasn’t such a big gap then maybe there would be more Social Workers taking up permanent positions and less need for agencies. Such a 360 compared to last year when there was a cry out for Social Workers…. any thoughts?
I was interested to know what other countries such as Australia do in terms of Agency Social Workers and this is what one of our Senior Practitioners had to say:
‘When I was in Australia, pre-2000, there were no agencies. If a person took a short- term job, as a locum, the job would have been advertised in the newspaper. The locum jobs paid exactly the same amount as permanent jobs, and sick leave and annual leave entitlements were the same, too.
It appears that since 2000 several agencies have been set up. From what I have seen the jobs they advertise are in mental health and in children and families teams.
It is such a shame to get bad press like this, and to be attacked at time when the status of social work isn’t brilliant’ – I agree
Firefly is a recruitment consultancy that specialises in sourcing, placing and managing social work professionals in public and private sector roles throughout London and its neighboring counties.
Caricatures used on our site are taken from www.charliescartoons.com.