Agency Social Work Workforce and the IR35 Tax Reforms

Commenting on the agency social work workforce and the possible implications of the IR35 tax reforms, Rachael Wardell, Chair of the Association’s Workforce Development Policy Committee, said:

“Social workers are at the heart of systems that keep children safe from harm and support hundreds of thousands of children, young people and families across the country. Their work is incredibly complex because families are complex and as employers we are absolutely committed to promoting one of the most important professions in the country by encouraging better public understanding of the role. Each local authority faces its own challenges with recruitment and retention and the flexibility provided by the agency workforce can be useful especially in managing peaks and troughs in demand for our services. These changes impact on some kinds of locum social worker, but not others, so local authorities are currently reflecting on what this will mean for their local workforce. It’s important that the market is effectively managed to ensure it provides a quality workforce and that our limited resources are being used to best effect. Some regions have implemented a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and introduced pay caps for agency staff to effectively manage the demand for, and supply of agency social workers and they are working well in terms of reducing costs and staff ‘churn’ but some concerns around the quality of the agency workforce remain. Where these MoU are in operation we would expect them to be updated to reflect changes in the market caused by these new regulations.

“Changes in taxation policy are driven by central government. Most agency social workers value the flexibility and work-life balance offered through agency work over the money and we hope that committed social workers would remain in the profession despite these changes.”


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