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Children: Social Services

Question for Department for Education

UIN 136640, tabled on 8 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Reporting Year 2021, Children's social work workforce, published 24 February 2022, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of child social care in response to the 4,995 social workers who left their roles in 2021; and what steps his Department is taking to (a) retain current social workers and (b) help ensure that the 6,522 vacant positions are filled.

Answered on

16 March 2022

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England is increasing every year. On 30 September 2021, there were 32,500 FTE child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England. This is an increase of 2% compared to 2020, and an increase of 14.1% compared to 2017. It is important to note that the 4,995 social workers who left their roles in 2021 includes all social workers who have moved between local authorities but are still working in children’s social care.

While the government recognises this may not be the picture some local authorities are seeing on the ground, we are working closely with local authorities and using central programmes and funding to respond to their needs.

The department is supporting the recruitment and retention of social workers through investment in fast-track initial social worker training programmes, and in professional development programmes to improve leadership. The department is also seeing some innovative practices from local authorities that are driving down agency rates and stabilising their workforces.

The government’s COVID-19 Recovery Action Plan aims to stabilise and strengthen children’s social care as we transition out of the pandemic, to deliver well for children and young people and provide a strong foundation for longer-term reform, informed by the independent review of children’s social care.