Richmond has the most unfilled social work posts in London, figures reveal

Richmond has the most social worker vacancies in London, figures have revealed. The statistics showed 35.5 per cent of social work posts were unfilled – meaning Richmond has a vacancy rate more than three times the national average and the second highest in the UK.

A spokeswoman for Home-Start Richmond, a charity that supports families with children under five by offering emotional and practical support, said it was taking on cases normally dealt with by social workers.

She said: “Over the last couple of years we have noticed a high increase in referrals of complex cases from social care – the types of cases that in the past would have been dealt with entirely by social workers.

“As they are under increased pressure due to a lack of staff they are working with other agencies [like ourselves], who would usually work with lower levels of need.

“We are happy to work alongside social workers who are doing a brilliant job, but often they are under a lot of pressure and are overstretched.

“One social worker told us that he was feeling ill and was taking cases home on the weekend to write reports.”

Funding cuts and increased demands from other authorities have placed social workers under more pressure.

Councillor Nicola Urquhart, Richmond Council cabinet member for adult services, said: “Recruiting permanent social workers with the necessary experience is a huge challenge facing authorities across the country.

“A key reason has been the decline in the numbers of professionals, and the low numbers of qualified staff coming through.

“I would like to reassure residents vacant social worker positions are filled by experienced agency staff, so we can continue to help people who need our support.

“This is something the figures fail to take into account.”