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Comment: Covid-19 and pressures on the workforce

Rachael Wardell, Chair of the ADCS Workforce Development Policy Committee, said:

“These are unprecedented times and the situation changes frequently so local authorities are working with all partners to build resilience and sustainability of our workforce and ensure that the needs of the children and families we work with are met. Local authorities were quick to respond to the risk around Covid-19 and mobilised the majority of their staff to work safely from home in line with the latest public health guidance, prioritising face to face work in situations where children are most at risk.

“In terms of specific workforce pressures on local authorities, these are similar to all other organisations working directly with the public, namely how we can continue to provide essential services as members of our workforce fall ill or need to self isolate, including our social workers.

“Given that we’re not able to recruit and retain enough social workers nationally already, any additional workforce shortages as a result of Covid-19 will be challenging. However, every local authority is following their business continuity plans which include contingency arrangements should this situation arise. Nationally, ADCS has been in discussion with Social Work England which is increasing the number of available social workers by inviting social workers who have left the register in the past two years to rejoin where they are eligible. Locally, most local authorities are preparing for and responding to workforce shortages by redeploying the qualified staff we already have to different roles where possible and where it’s safe to do so, as well as using agency social workers if necessary.”


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