Nottinghamshire social workers’ caseload ‘too high’

Source – BBC News


The caseload of Nottinghamshire social workers has left it impossible for them to do the job safely, an expert claims.


Newly released figures showed that last year social workers in the county dealt with an average of 23 cases at any one time. The English average was 16.


Ex-social worker Ailsa Pearce said it was impossible to do the job safely with that number of cases.


County Hall said it had been recruiting staff and the average caseload figure was 13 this week.


The government recently compiled the figures, revealing that across the East Midlands the average caseload is higher than anywhere else in England and higher still in Nottinghamshire.

‘Relentlessly flat out’


Ms Pearce was an experienced senior social worker who left the county council because of the pressure of the job.


She said social work standards in Nottinghamshire remained “very high”.


“[But] the quality of overall social work has to be affected when you are working relentlessly flat out with very, very stressful cases and very, very difficult circumstances,” she said.


“Some social workers had 35 children on their case load and one person had 42.”


Nushra Mansuri from the British Association of Social Workers, said the figures were “worrying”, pointing out that each case could include a family of several youngsters.


Because of cuts, she said, it also meant only the most serious of cases are dealt with.

‘They are manageable’


“Children’s services should not be crisis driven,” Ms Mansuri explained.


“There needs to be proper investment… financial investment, but also investment in support services.”


Steve Edwards, the county council’s service director for children’s social care, said that this week the average caseload was 13, but admitted it could be much higher.


“That doesn’t mean social workers always have caseloads of 13, they don’t. [But] they don’t have caseloads of 35 or 40 plus, generally that wouldn’t happen.


“On average, caseloads in Nottinghamshire are between 14 and the low 20s, so they are manageable.”


He added the council had invested in and recruited staff who do an “excellent job keeping children safe”.