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New campaign 80-20 launched to address the disproportionate amount of time social workers spend on paperwork.

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Alfie Rankin Social Care

The 80-20 campaign aims to address the imbalance in the amount of time social workers spend doing paperwork rather than spending the time working directly with children and their families.

It has been launched by the British Association of Social Workers in partnership with the Children’s Commissioner’s Office.

Research by the British Association suggests that social workers spend nearly 80 per cent of their time working on computers or completing paperwork, while only 20 per cent of their time is spent in direct contact with children and families, building relationships.

The survey of 350 members showed on average social workers spend during a working week of 45 hours, 29 on a computer or doing paperwork, and only 11 on direct relationship-based time with children.

An anonymous respondent said, ‘Social work is totally skewed in favour of administration and is the focus of supervision. My paperwork is reviewed regularly, but I have not been observed in direct work with any family/young person in five years.’

The BASW said its survey and supporting research showed Government funding for social services has dropped significantly since 2010, highlights the need for an ‘organisational culture shift' to create more opportunities and time for social workers to have face-to-face contact with children.

The British Association of Social Workers stated that it will be talking to and supporting local authorities in implementing practical solutions including:

Better IT systems

Controlling admin by appointing dedicated admin staff.

A change in management focus, distancing itself from managerialism, performance indicators and targets and moving toward a more direct “outcomes for children” approach.

Maris Stratulis - BASW England manager stated ‘The term “relationship based social work” is not an add on, it is fundamentally about building relationships and that takes time, investment and commitment. More direct contact is what children are telling us they need, and we need to listen to what they are telling us.’

Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, said, “Children themselves say that stability is the most important aspect of their experience of care. That’s why I think the 80/20 campaign is an important opportunity to look at the impact of the direct time social workers spend with children and families, and at how we can improve the experiences of children in care.’