The information in this statistical release is based on data collected by the Department for Education in the annual statutory census collection on the children’s social work workforce. The census collects information from local authorities in England on the social workers and agency workers they employ within their children’s services department.
The guide to submitting data provides information on how local authorities should collect and submit data to complete the children’s social work workforce census.
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.
Since 2013 the children’s social work workforce census has collected data for each full year ending 30 September. The latest collection covers the year from 1 October 2020 to 30 September 2021. Data has been collected on an individual social worker level basis since 2017, whereas from 2013 to 2017 it was collected at an aggregate (local authority) level.
Prior to 2013, the primary source for information on the children and family social work workforce was the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC). This was a voluntary return. The last report on this data published by the department covered the workforce at December 2012 and used data returned by 68 out of the 152 local authorities. There has been a 100% response rate for each of the statutory collections since 2013.
These statistics have been published as official statistics since 2020, whereas in previous years they were classified as experimental statistics. More information on the code of practice for official statistics is available from the UK Statistics Authority.
Users should read all footnotes and caveats included in this publication to understand the practical applications and limitations of the data. In particular, comparisons with previous years should be done with caution, as any changes may in part be a result of improvements in data quality. Refer to the ‘Data Quality and Uses’ section for more information on data quality issues.
The information in this release is based only on data collected since 2017. Data for earlier years is published in the children's social work workforce statistics collection.
This is the second release in this series impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Children’s social work workforce census covers all local authorities in England and all children and family social workers employed by those local authorities.
Kingston upon Thames and Richmond upon Thames submit a joint return each year through Achieving for Children, a social enterprise company created by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames to provide their children’s services. As a result of this arrangement their data cannot be broken down to an individual local authority level and is instead reported together against Kingston upon Thames. This arrangement has no impact on the regional and national totals included in this publication.
Northamptonshire local authority was replaced with two new unitary authorities, North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire, in April 2021. Data for both unitary authorities combined was submitted by North Northamptonshire in the 2021 census and is reported against North Northamptonshire in this statistics publication. North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire should be able to make separate census returns in 2022.