Reporting Year 2020

Children's social work workforce

This is the latest data
Published

This release provides information about children's social workers employed in local authorities and agency social workers. The latest collection covers the year from 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020.

The information is based on data collected in an annual census from local authorities in England. Children and family social workers are social workers registered with Social Work England (SWE), formerly the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), working in a local authority in a children’s services department or, if working in an authority where the services are joined up, a social worker that works primarily on children and families work.

A time series of national, regional and local authority breakdowns of the data is available in the ‘Download associated files’ section.

Since last year the children and family social worker statistics have been published as official statistics, whereas in previous years they were classified as experimental statistics. More information on official statistics is available from the UK Statistics Authority.

Figures are shown on both a full-time equivalent (FTE) and headcount basis. 


Headline facts and figures - 2020

The latest collection covers the year ending 30 September 2020 and so this is the first data in this series relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Headlines of particular interest are:

  • The average caseload per children and family social worker fell to 16.3 in 2020, down from 16.9 in 2019. Information collected in the Vulnerable children and young people survey suggests that total referrals to children’s services were below average between April and September 2020. However, the average caseload fall of 0.6 follows recent downward trends, including a decrease of 0.5  between 2018 and 2019.
  • The sickness absence rate was 2.9%, down from 3.1% last year. See the sickness absence section for further detail about how this relates to workforce availability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other headlines are:

  • There were 31,900 full-time equivalent (FTE) children and family social workers in post at 30 September 2020, an increase of 3.7% from the same point in 2019.
  • There were 6,100 FTE children and family social worker vacancies at 30 September 2020, similar to the same point last year.
  • There were 5,800 FTE agency children and family social workers in post 30 September 2020, similar to last year.
  • The FTE agency worker rate at 30 September 2020 was 15.4%, down from 15.8% at the same point last year.

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