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Headline social work information

Data correct as at September 2022

Next update due: February 2024

This page provides the estimated number of social workers employed by local authorities in England, and information about recruitment and retention, demographics and pay rates. Information is correct as at September 2022. Data on the children’s social work workforce is published by the Department for Education.

There were around 17,300 social workers employed by local authority adult social service departments across England as at September 2022, and an additional 2,000 in the independent sector and around 3,300 in the NHS. This report focuses on the 17,300 social workers employed by local authority adult social services departments. 

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  • For information about how workforce estimates are created or rounding and suppression rules please visit our webpage on methodology.
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Summary of key findings

  • The number of social workers employed by local authorities in England as at September 2022 was 17,300.
  • There was an increase of 1,100 social worker jobs since 2011 (+6.7%), whereas the total number all jobs within LAs decreased by 45,500 jobs (-28.5%) over the same period. Social worker jobs have generally been retained by local authorities during a period where many other jobs have been outsourced to the independent sector.
  • The social worker turnover rate in adult social services departments was 17.1% in 2022, equivalent to around 2,600 leavers in the previous 12 months.
  • There were around 2,000 vacant social worker jobs in local authorities as at September 2022, which is a rate of 11.6%.
  • Social workers had an average of 12.1 sickness days in 2022, which equates to around 187,000 working days lost. 
  • Social workers had an average of 10.4 years of experience working in adult social care and 5.6 years in their current role.
  • Social workers were more ethnically diverse than the overall adult social services departments’ workforce. Almost a third (29%) of social workers were identified as having a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, compared to 18% across all job roles.
  • The mean full-time equivalent salary for a social worker in local authorities was £39,100 as at September 2022.
  • Between 2012 and 2022, the nominal full-time equivalent salary of social workers has increased by 19.8% from £32,600 to £39,100. However, in real terms the salary is 5.5% less than in 2012.


Monthly tracking

Monthly tracking of vacancies, total staff, occupancy rates and sickness is published here.



Related reports 

  • There is more information about social workers throughout the State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England report.
  • You can also find social worker information in the relevant regional report.
  • The social work education report presents information on social work higher education in England, making use of data from HESA describe and discuss the current trends in social work education.
  • The Approved Mental Health Professionals workforce (AMHP) report includes estimated numbers, employment information, recruitment and retention, demographics and pay rates if this part of the workforce.

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