Major investment needed to tackle a social work system in crisis

Significant changes needed to give proper support instead of ‘firefighting’

Commenting on the review into the deaths of Star Hobson and Arthur Labinjo-Hughes published today (Thursday), UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“A system in crisis is failing to protect children in great danger. Much needs to change to put a stop to tragedies like the deaths of Star and Arthur.

“Put simply, there aren’t enough social workers to cope with the number of families needing ​help.

“So great are the case numbers that staff are firefighting rather than providing the right support to protect the most vulnerable. Cuts to early-help services mean social workers are seeing families at breaking point.

“Stress, burnout and overwork means councils are losing staff at faster rates than they can recruit new employees. This means an over-reliance on agency workers and families rarely seeing the same face twice.

“Social work and early-help services need substantial government investment now. The MacAlister review cited funding for higher wages to attract more to the profession, improve the career options of social workers and create more specialist posts.”

Notes to editors
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.