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Huge caseloads for social workers

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Huge caseloads for social workers

THE heavy caseloads of social workers in Dumfries and Galloway has come under the spotlight.

The region’s interim chief social work officer, Stephen Morgan, admitted that there has been an increase in pressure and workload for the social work department since the pandemic.

And Independent Councillor Willie Scobie stressed that more money needs to be invested in staffing and reducing these caseloads – or people in the community may “suffer badly”.

Speaking at the latest social work committee, Councillor Scobie said that he understood the number of families seeking support from social workers had “increased substantially” following the pandemic.

The Stranraer and the Rhins councillor continued: “And indeed, the proportion isn’t the same for a number of social workers in dealing with these.

“I would imagine that caseload is increasing exponentially.

“It’s whether the pressure that’s on the social work department right now does require further funding.”

He added: “We need to know if we do need further budget no this – or people are going to suffer out there badly.”

Stephen Morgan said: “I’m glad that you raised the issue of social workers’ caseloads because it’s one that we’ve been concerned about for quite some time locally – and we’re increasingly concerned now.”

Mr Morgan explained that, since the publication of the ‘Setting The Bar’ report by Social Work Scotland, the council’s social work department has been doing extensive work. This has involved mapping out what the caseloads for all social workers in adult social care, justice, and children’s services should be.

A report on this will be presented to the council’s senior leadership team on September 18.

“That will set out what the caseload should look like to meet the objectives of the legislation and the policy drivers,” said the social work chief.

“We will then map alongside that what that would mean in terms of the amount of workers we would need to do the job well.”

He added: “You asked a specific question about since Covid, have the numbers gone up, and are staff more busy?

“The answer is yes – and that’s evidenced in the chief social work officer report.”

The committee heard that additional funding from the council and Scottish Government has allowed for more support staff to be recruited, but there is still a shortage of fully-trained social workers here in Dumfries and Galloway, as well as nationally.

A report will be brought back to the October social work committee detailing the workload and pressures on the service.

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