Increased demands placed on voluntary sector staff by welfare reform

A new research report, commissioned by CCPS and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS), has found that voluntary sector care and support staff are experiencing increased levels of stress, as well as greater demands on support services, due to the gradual rollout of welfare reform changes, introduced in 2012 by the UK coalition government.

The research report, funded in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), found that third sector social care staff are increasingly being asked to perform tasks outside of their main care and support role to assist with the growing number of benefit-related issues faced by the vulnerable individuals and families that they support. Staff reported dealing with higher caseloads, involving more complex issues related to welfare reform, which is leading to increased stress and anxiety for many workers.

The report, based on interviews and workshop findings from a broad cross-section of voluntary sector care and support organisations, considered the impact of welfare reform on staff roles, welfare and wellbeing, as well as staff training needs. Final findings showed that staff are facing unprecedented levels of demand, within services that are having to quickly adapt to meet changing needs, and, in some cases, without sufficient benefits information or training being readily accessible. Staff also expressed concern that existing downward pressures on funding for voluntary sector organisations could be worsened by welfare reform stretching resources even further. For more information about the research project, as well as the summary and key recommendations resulting from the final report, please go to the project blog.

CCPS hopes that this research will inform future practice and policy in this area, and will support social care and housing support providers to effectively prepare for, and respond to, welfare reform in the future. To this end, CCPS also supports the Scottish Welfare Reform Advisory Service (SCOTWRAS), run by CPAG Scotland and Shelter Scotland, which gives advice to frontline care and support staff on welfare benefits and housing issues. For more information on how to contact the support service go to www.scotwras.org

Feature photo: Claire Ogg, Aspire Housing and Personal Development Services, a winner of the HSEU’s No Place Like Home photo competition in 2013.

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