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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-09860

  • Asked by: Gillian Mackay, MSP for Central Scotland, Scottish Green Party
  • Date lodged: 19 July 2022
  • Current status: Answered by Clare Haughey on 16 August 2022


To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to (a) raise the profile of social work and (b) improve the public understanding of the role and impact of social workers in Scotland.


The Social Work Strategic Forum commissioned a research project in 2016 into the public perception of social services in Scotland. Overall, the research findings suggested a good level of support for social services in Scotland and a reasonable level of literacy among respondents about what social services do. The findings also suggested that the public has a much more positive view of social services than social service workers and institutions perceive. Overall, people in Scotland are positive about social services’ impact on society and believe these services perform an important public role.

The Scottish Social Services Awards have been held annually since 2017 (except in 2020 due to COVID-19) and provide an opportunity to recognise the social work and social care workforce, raise the profile of the sector, demonstrate that it is valued and highlight the commitment and innovative approaches of those who work within it.

Under current arrangements, the Scottish Government sets the overall strategic framework for social work delivery. The majority of social workers are employed by councils with terms and conditions set by individual employers, resulting in local variations in pay and grading. There is no single national body which has oversight and leads social workers’ professional development, education, improvement, data and workforce planning.

The recently published National Care Service (Scotland) Bill will establish a new National Social Work Agency, which will support and invest in the social work profession by providing national leadership, and overseeing and supporting social work in a range of areas, including: workforce planning, improvement and social work terms and conditions. In establishing the National Social Work Agency, the Scottish Government will work with frontline social workers, their representative bodies and the wider social work and social care sector to raise the profile of the sector and promote understanding of the role of social workers.