Families: Social Workers

Department for Education written question – answered at on 14 March 2024.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department has taken to tackle shortages in family social workers.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Social workers play a valuable role in supporting the most vulnerable in society and the department is committed to ensuring there is an excellent child and family social worker for everyone who needs one. The department recognises the ongoing challenge facing local authorities across the country in recruiting and retaining child and family social workers, with reasons for social workers leaving the profession varied and complex.

On 2 February 2023, the department published the care reform strategy, ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’, which set out proposals to help stabilise the workforce. This includes supporting the recruitment of up to 461 social worker apprentices, a new Early Career Framework that will set out the development plans for a social worker’s first five years, proposals to reduce the overreliance on agency social workers, and setting up a National Workload Action Group to tackle unnecessary workload drivers which keep social workers away from direct time with children and families.

Every year, through the department’s fast track and development programmes, the department trains an average of 800 new social workers and provides professional development for around 4,000 others.

The number of full time equivalent child and family social workers in post at 30 September 2023 was 33,100. This is the highest figure we've seen since gathering this data. The statistics show that the department’s £50 million average yearly investment over this Spending Review on recruitment and training child and family social workers, alongside the hard work of local authorities is generating positive results.

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