SWU comments on Local Authority pay rises and low 2022 CPD submissions

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Pay is just one of the issues important to Social Workers in 2022

NHS and Local Authority pay deals

Last week the government announced that a pay deal has been agreed and that NHS-employed social workers covered by Agenda for Change contracts will get a pay rise of about 4% this year.

Community Care has run coverage on the situation of Local Authorities, stating that “unions have, separately, put in pay claims of 11% for council and Cafcass staff and are currently in negotiations with employers. However, councils have reportedly budgeted for a 2% rise for their staff and Cafcass is bound by a government pay remit that states that pay must rise by up to 2% or – if a convincing business case can be made – 3%.”

John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU commented, “The Agenda for Change pay deal is a good starting point for NHS staff in comparison to their public sector counterparts working in Local Authorities. There is a degree of government say in how much public sector social workers’ pay is increased, but the decision-making over spending on the social work workforce is delegated to authorities who currently appear to be in talks with the three large trade unions who have a monopoly on social work negotiations.

“Although traditionally larger unions have done well to focus on pay, there are other issues that are important to Social Workers in 2022 including appropriate working conditions, employment wellbeing and job satisfaction as well as just pay scales and salaries. Interestingly, this is reflected further through recent SWU/ BASW / Bath Spa University research and follow up meetings indicating that addressing those factors keep social workers in their posts.

It is important to keep in mind that a large number of social workers do not work for Local Authorities and will also be excluded from any pay discussions.”

Unfortunately, it looks like all pay deals for social workers will result in a pay cut in real terms as the Bank of England has predicted inflation will continue to stay above 9% over the next few months and will rise to slightly above 11% in October.

Social Work England receiving low levels of CPD submissions after increasing CPD requirements

Social Work England recently stated that only 3% of social work practitioners have met the new requirement to upload two pieces of continuing professional development (CPD) five months before the registration renewal deadline. This is in the context of the regulator having increased CPD requirements for practitioners to renew their registration this year, which involve submitting two pieces of CPD and detailing learning from peer reflection on one of the pieces.

The Social Workers Union (SWU) and the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) warned that work pressures were creating significant barriers to practitioners fulfilling their CPD obligations.

Carol Reid, SWU National Organiser, said, “Social Work England report that ‘submissions for CPD are lower than the equivalent period last year’ following the introduction of new CPD requirements including evidence of peer reflection. SWU is not surprised by this slower response given that our members tell us that they are burnt out and exhausted and see the new requirements as additional levels of interrogation when they are already snowed under with the pressures of demanding caseloads, additional hours, lack of support, and often no flexibility to rigid full-time working patterns. 

“Our members see high turnovers of staff, cases growing in numbers and complexity, and little chance of productive and reflective supervision – including opportunities for peer reflection – so it’s hardly surprising that there is no rush to complete the newly updated forms. 

“SWU welcomes supportive input from Social Work England in relation to adapting and developing their ways of collecting evidence of CPD, but it must consider the context, time limitations, and frustrations experienced by social workers when requested to collate, document, and reflect upon their daily interventions.”