Inspection pressure ‘hits social work’

July 1, 2009

The increasing pressure of inspections risks hampering councils ability to recruit and retain more social workers, a director of childrens services has warned.
Helen Denton, Lancashire CCs director of childrens services, said she believed that Ofsteds new inspection framework for child safeguarding – which includes unannounced visits, council performance indicators, and other statutory obligations – were pressure that could not be ignored.

Ms Denton told a New Local Government Network safeguarding conference that a culture of fear was being created, and that innovation to help and support front-line staff was vital.

There are eight different ways in which frontline social workers may be able to be subjected to inspection and challenge thats an enormous amount of stress, she said.

Im seriously worried that were going to impose such constraints on team members and social workers that eventually there will be no-one there to inspect.

Ms Denton told LGC she would not be surprised if the increased pressures social workers had been operating under in recent months had resulted in increased levels of work-related illness among frontline staff.

She said that in addition to the increased burden of inspection, social workers were also dealing with rising referrals of potential cases with varying degrees of merit but all of which had to be investigated.

Ms Denton said she hoped the Childrens Workforce Development Council was factoring those pressures into its guidance on workloads that is due later this year.

Helga Pile, social services national officer at Unison, said it was clear that there was a lot of anxiety about unannounced inspections, and fundamental questions about what performance indicators and inspections were really for.

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