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Welsh social workers call for action over fears a Baby P case could happen in Wales

Ian has been a social worker for 21 years, a job he used to love. He'd help people at their lowest point in life. He retired in September and has no regrets, for him the job became unbearable.

I suggest to Ian that had a journalist asked him 10-15 years ago how the job was he would have said a similar thing. "No" he said "the cuts have made it worse than ever."

We meet at the annual Welsh Social Worker awards, a night to celebrate the uncelebrated: social work is a notoriously thankless job.

It is a necessary profession and that's why our survey raises so many issues. It found:

  • 60% had noticed job cuts
  • 66% said posts were not being filled
  • 48% said there would be repercussions if they spoke out about concerns
  • 82% had noticed cuts to service provision
  • 61% said they believe the current state of social work in Wales is putting people at risk of harm

Unions say the survey is a warning. We asked social workers to leave anonymous comments. Here's what they said:

It has always been a pressured job but it is for more difficult now because of funding cuts which has a knock on affect on every area of social work resulting poor quality but standards expected to work to are high.

– Social worker

It feels as though we are reaching a crisis point where the service cannot withstand any further cuts, without the help and support that is needed in the community completely disappearing.

– Social worker

We can't offer the best support to people, particularly carers, because the services they need are either no longer available or too oversubscribed. Budgets are decreasing and demand for services is growing.

– Social worker

Social services are a protected area of council spending, but we've heard of cases where cheaper and inexperienced people are being used to do the job, cuts to staff allowances and vacancies unfilled.

Problems aren't uniquely Welsh. All across the UK there are similar pressures. The Welsh Government say social service funding has been protected and there are more social workers now than a decade ago.

But Ian isn't convinced, he fears a Baby P case in Wales and says action is needed to make sure it doesn't happen.