UNISON called for an urgent cash injection into social work yesterday after a report showed vulnerable kids are being failed due to cuts in child protection and mental health services.
The report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), which is published today, found that children are suffering because of service underfunding.
Official figures show that councils reduced spending on staff in children’s social services by £147 million between 2010 and 2013 following cuts of more than £5 billion by central government on local authorities.
Comments from a recent survey of social workers by Unison exemplified the problems highlighted in the report.
A social worker from the south-east said: “My caseload is very high and does not allow me time to effectively plan for families.
“This means that children are involved in services for longer and the harm/abuse they experience is likely to continue for longer due to delay in effective and planned interventions.”
In the West Midlands a senior social worker expressed similar concerns: “I am having to close cases that really need continued support because of diminished resources.”
The results of the 1,140-person survey demonstrate that these are not isolated examples.
Thirty-nine per cent of respondents said that they left work with serious concerns about one or more of their cases, while 55 per cent said their ability to make a difference for children day-to-day was affected by cuts.
The survey found that the average child protection case load was 23 cases and over half of respondents were covering extra cases on any given day because of shortages.
Unison social care officer Helga Pile said: “Budget cuts have led to social work shortages and to a focus on crisis management rather than early intervention.
“Social workers are under constant pressure to close cases and to find the cheapest placement options rather than what would be the best for the child.
“It is time the coalition woke up to the tragic consequences of its austerity agenda on children.”
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