UNISON National

Cuts forcing social workers to ‘brink of burnout’, says UNISON

Social workers are struggling with heavy caseloads, working longer hours and going without lunch breaks, according to a survey by UNISON and Community Care magazine.

Nearly half (48%) of respondents said the volume of cases they were responsible for left them feeling ‘over the limit,’ and more than half (56%) blamed staff shortages for their heavy workload.

The report A Day in the Life of Social Work is based on feedback from more than 2,000 social work professionals including those in child protection and adult mental health.

It gives a snapshot of a typical day in their working lives and highlights how cutbacks and staff shortages are taking a toll on the profession.

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of those who completed the survey said cuts had affected their ability to make a difference to the vulnerable people they support. Verbal abuse was another key issue for nearly half (47%) of respondents.

UNISON head of local government Heather Wakefield said: “This is a profession on the brink of burnout.

“Staff are working long hours without breaks and having to cope with unprecedented caseloads. Those in need are suffering because social workers have less time to go out and help them.

“All councils should set up a system of monitoring to reduce demands on already over-worked staff. Otherwise not only social workers but those they’re trying to help will suffer.”

Notes to editors:
– The link to A Day in The Life of Social Work can be found here. A similar survey was published by UNISON and Community Care in 2014.
– A total of 2,032 social work professionals from across the UK wereasked to describe their day on 21 September 2016. The majority (85%) of those who took part were employed by a local authority.

Media contacts:
Joe Lewis T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07970 863 411 E: j.lewis5@unison.co.uk
Alan Weaver T:  0207 121 5555 M: 07939 143310 E: a.weaver@unison.co.uk