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Average Caseloads for UK Social Workers

19 Mar 2018
Posted by: Tom Mckenna

The Department for Education has released it’s second Annual Statistics Report on Children and Family Social Workers in England.

There were 28,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) Children’s Social Workers as of 30th September 2017, plus 5,340 Agency Workers and 5,820 Vacancies.

Not everyone surveyed was a Case Holder and the proportion of Case Holders varied across each Local Authority. On average they found that 51% of all Social Workers surveyed were Case Holders. The survey from the previous year (2016) had showed that 54% were Case Holders.

In 2016, Ofsted released its Annual Social Care Report which stated caseloads were “too high” in poorly performing authorities. Therefore, it is quite worrying that the percentage of Social Workers who are responsible for Case Holding is decreasing. Furthermore, “unmanageable caseloads” was a common feature in services rated as ‘inadequate’.

The Annual Statistics report stated that as of 30th September 2017, there were 317,690 cases held by 17,840 Social Workers. This is worrying considering the number of children in need is much higher than the number of caseloads listed. The Department for Education notes this data should be interpreted with caution, as several factors could have caused this difference. For example, a difference in dates when collecting data; subjective opinions in what constitutes a case; or potentially data quality.

Based on FTE counts, they found that the average caseload per Children and Family Social Worker is 17.8 cases. There was a big variation across Local Authorities, with Kingston upon Thames and Richmond upon Thames having only 10.2 as an average, while Staffordshire had an average of 26.4. This variation could be due to differing local practices in case management and the Department for Education state that some Local Authorities raised this as an issue during collection.

This is the first time caseload data has been collected at an individual Social Worker Level, so it isn’t comparable to the data collected from previous years. It is important to note that Local Authorities reported difficulties linking the number of cases to the Social Worker holding those cases. Therefore, care needs to be taken when we interpret these figures. However, it is safe to say there isn’t much consistency across caseloads and we know there is a correlation between high caseloads and lower Ofsted performance. 

Have a look at the tables below to see the five regions with the highest and lowest average caseloads:

Areas with Highest Average Caseload

Region/Local Authority

Number of Cases

Number of Case Holders

Average Caseload

Staffordshire

5271

199.4

26.4

Shropshire

1950

77.7

25.1

Kinston Upon Hull, City of

3485

142.3

24.5

Southampton

1919

80.5

23.9

Blackburn with Darwen

1413

59.4

23.8

 

Areas with Lowest Average Caseload

Region/Local Authority

Number of Cases

Number of Case Holders

Average Caseload

Kingston Upon Thames

666

65.1

10.2

Kensington and Chelsea

706

59.2

11.9

Hertfordshire

2983

240.3

12.4

Darlington

730

58.4

12.5

Sutton

932

72.1

12.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children's Social Work Workforce (2017)

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