Headlines: July 2nd, 2009

Council leaders have warned that low morale among social workers is putting the safety of vulnerable children at risk. The warning came as a survey by the Local Government Association showed that nine out of ten councillors in charge of children’s services think the public perception of the profession has worsened since Baby Peter case.

The survey found that 93 per cent of respondents felt reporting of the case had a negative impact on the way people regarded social workers and almost as many believed there had been a negative impact on staff morale. The LGA said these two factors would make the recruitment and retention of staff harder and so weaken ‘the safety net which protects thousands of children on a daily basis’.

The survey also produced updated figures on the number of local authorities that feel it has become more difficult to recruit children’s social workers since October 2008. It stands at 60 per cent while 34 per cent said retention of social workers had got worse with frontline staff the most affected.

As part of the LGA’s ‘Respect and Protect’ campaign, councils are being offered free posters aimed at boosting the image of social work. The LGA Chair, Margaret Eaton, said: “Social workers should be proud of what they do. Councillors want social workers to be able to hold their heads high when they tell people about their jobs, and it is partly down to councils to show they are proud of them as employees.”