1 in 10 social work jobs remain unfilled

The average UK council has more than one-in-10 social work posts vacant while one English authority has a vacancy rate of almost 40%, new research has found.

Freedom of Information requests by public sector union Unison showed London had the highest regional vacancy rate for both adults and children’s social workers, with 20% of posts unfilled.

Regionally, the East Midlands had the next highest average for vacancies, at over 16%.

However, Sandwell MBC had the highest vacancy rate of any local authority in the survey with 39% of its social work posts currently unfilled. In second place was Reading BC, with a vacancy rate of 31%.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the figures showed councils appearing to be covering up the severity of the crisis in social work, and needing to take urgent action.

“Councils should not bury their heads in the sand and try and cover up the problem,” he said.

“This situation is no good for social workers and it’s no good for their clients who desperately need help. Councils need urgent action plans and to work with central government and unions to plug the gaps before we have another tragedy like Baby P.”

Scotland had the lowest average national vacancy rates with just 7.7% of posts unfilled, slightly ahead of Northern Ireland’s 8%.