Revolving door of Wigan social worker jobs

Dozens of Wigan's children's social workers left their jobs last year - but numbers are improving.
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Unmanageable caseloads and deteriorating working conditions have contributed to thousands of child and family social workers across England quitting their jobs, according to the British Association of Social Workers.

Department for Education data for Wigan shows that 24 full-time employees left their jobs in the year to September, among 120 to have done so since 2017.

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Many social workers quit after only a short number of yearsMany social workers quit after only a short number of years
Many social workers quit after only a short number of years
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There were more than 6,500 vacancies counted nationally last September – with 71 advertised in Wigan, up from 43 in September 2020.

At 15.4 per cent, the national turn-over rate was also the highest recorded since 2017, with the rate in Wigan standing at 11.7 per cent, down from 20.6 recorded the year before.

There were 56 new Wigan starters last year, bringing the number of full-time child and family social workers to 209 – much higher than the 182 recorded five years previously.

The figures are not limited to those leaving the profession entirely and may reflect social workers moving between different local authorities or into different fields of social work.

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Across England, the total number of social workers rose by two per cent, to 32,500, in the year to September but 5,000 social workers assigned to support children and families left during that period: the highest number in five years and a rise of 16 per cent on the year before.

Anthony Dhadwal, senior press officer for the BASW, said the association had warned the Government for years over a lack of support for new social workers and the number of experienced staff leaving the profession.

He added: “Time and time again the reasons our members have given have remained consistent – unmanageable caseloads, deteriorating working conditions and a lack of resources to help families.

“Without a fully staffed and resourced workforce, we risk social workers not being able to meet their obligations as individuals, and teams will be overstretched."

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Mr Dhadwal said a record number of vacancies within the sector came as no surprise.

The BASW has called for a strategy to address disparities across England and tackle "pinch-points" in places with increased caseloads and high vacancy and turnover rates.

A DfE spokeswoman said there were more social workers in the profession than ever and said the Government helped local authorities retain and recruit social workers by funding fast track training and professional support.

She said councils had access to mental health services to help social workers remain resilient and stay in the profession, with peer-to-peer support available.

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She added: “We recognise the pressure on children’s services, which is why we are providing councils with £4.8bn in new grant funding to help maintain vital frontline services, including children’s social care.”

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