Two-thirds of social workers hit by pay freeze

More than two-thirds of social workers have had their pay frozen in the past year, while 16 per cent have taken a pay cut, according to a survey of almost 600 professionals.

The research, by social work recruitment consultancy Liquid Personnel, also revealed that 79 per cent of social workers are concerned about how public sector cuts could affect their pensions.

Meanwhile, the survey found that 85 per cent of social workers believe they are poorly represented at a national level.

Researchers asked professionals which body or person should be responsible for standing up for social workers and representing their interests. Forty-two per cent of respondents said the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), 15 per cent said government, 13 per cent said a chief social worker and 11 per cent said the College of Social Work.

The survey was carried out before BASW and the College of Social Work agreed to work together towards setting up a single college for the profession. BASW is now known as BASW – the College of Social Work.

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, argued that the organisation is best placed to raise the status of the social work profession.

“BASW is constantly campaigning on the scandalous treatment of social workers and the way that central and local government have completely failed to protect social work services and give them sufficient priority in this economic climate,” he said.

“If 40 per cent of social workers joined us then we would have about three times the resources we currently have to support social workers.”

Managing director of Liquid Personnel Jonathan Coxon said organisations such as BASW and the College of Social Work have a real opportunity to “begin making a difference for social workers on the frontline”.

“Social workers deserve to be well paid – it’s an incredibly demanding career, and for 16 per cent of our respondents to have actually had their pay reduced is a disgrace,” he said.

“If this is not addressed, we will struggle to retain the current crop of skilled social workers, let alone attract new people to the profession.

“Negative stories will always grab the headlines, and it’s frustrating that social work’s good news stories will rarely make the front page. But changing the public perception of the profession is not just a PR exercise; it can only come from meaningful investment and reform.”