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Adult Social Work positions go unfilled

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The Care Act has triggered a boost in Social Work positions. However, Local Authorities and Councils have been unable to fill more than 2,000 of these according to figures.

Adult Social Work positions have soared from 2014 – 2015. This has been the first increase in Social Work numbers for 4 years. Showing the councils are boosting capacity to deliver the Care Act which came into effect in April 2015.

The Shortfall in filled posts has been published by the Health and Social Care information centre (HSCIC), these worrying statistics may concern Councils that problems with the recruitment of Social Workers may be detrimental to the Care Acts progress. The most worrying aspect of these reports are that highly trained and experienced Social Workers such as Best Interest Assessors (BIAs) or Approved Mental Health Practitioners (AMHPs) are the most difficult to fill. Does this mean that the majority of the ground breaking Care Act will be pushed by less experienced Social Workers?

Both groups have rocketed in demand in recent years. AMHPs play a key role in assessments within the Mental Health Act and BIAs coordinate Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding (DoLS) cases, DoLS have increased tenfold following the Supreme Court’s ‘Cheshire West’ ruling in March 2014. This increase in demand and the financial uplift has seen a rise in BIA-trained Social Workers leaving permanent employment with councils for the more lucrative and flexible work as an Independent Assessor.

Even with the recent surge in Adult Social Work recruitment the overall number of council-employed Adult Social Care roles dropped from 130,100 in 2014 to 120,200, a fall of 7.6%. Council restructures have been cited for 8,500 job losses, 5,900 job cuts have been attributed to outsourcing and a loss of 2,600 jobs to services being closed. Most of the losses were in Care Work roles, which dropped by 11% from 68,600 to 60,800. Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “This fall in staff numbers is not a surprise given the cuts to adult social care budgets over the last five years, totalling £4.6billion or a 31% reduction. Councils have sought to protect frontline social workers while seeking efficiency in management and outsourcing direct care provision.”

Caroline Abrahams, director at charity Age UK, said: “It is very worrying that there is such a huge reduction in the number of people working on social care in local authorities.

“Although most care is now provided by external organisations, local authority staff are key in making sure the needs of older people are properly assessed, and that follow up care is organised for them if they are eligible – as well as making sure they can come home safely after a spell in hospital.” 
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