Almost two dozen of Milton Keynes's children's social workers quit

There's a record number of vacancies within the sector nationally

By Joanna Morris, Data Reporter
Monday, 28th February 2022, 2:49 pm
Updated Monday, 28th February 2022, 2:50 pm

Almost two dozen of Milton Keynes's children's social workers left their jobs last year, figures show.

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 Milton Keynes shows that 21 full-time employees left their jobs in the year to September, among 112 to have done so since 2017.

Children's social workers are under pressure in Milton Keynes and elsewhere

The figures show that 12 of those who left last year had been in their roles for fewer than five years, and eight for under two years.

Across England, the total number of social workers rose by 2%, 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% on the year before.

More than two-thirds of them had been in their role for under five years.

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."

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

There were more than 6,500 vacancies counted last September – with 24 advertised in Milton Keynes, up from 16 in September 2020.

At 15.4%, the national turn-over rate was also the highest recorded since 2017, with the rate in Milton Keynes standing at 12.7%, down from 16.5% recorded the year before.

There were 36 new starters last year, bringing the number of full-time child and family social workers to 165 – much higher than the 145 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.

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.

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