Social work students will be eligible for greater financial support from September as part of an extra £3.5 million package of support, the Deputy Minister for Social Services has announced.
The enhanced financial support will be available for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in Wales via the Social Work Bursary, which will provide almost £10 million over the next three years to assist future social workers.
Eligible undergraduates studying for the social work degree will be able to access up to £3,750 per year over the three-year course in addition to the funding available to them through Student Finance Wales.
Postgraduate students will be able to access £12,715 per year of their two year course. This will reduce the loan element students will need to repay after their studies.
This represents a more than 50% increase on the current bursary for both undergraduates and postgraduates.
Social work is changing; people’s needs are changing, and cases are becoming more complex. The pandemic has added pressures to social work and recruitment and retention challenges are increasing.
The Social Work Bursary incentivises people to take up social work training with the aim of building a sustainable social work workforce in Wales. The increase to the bursary is just the first step in plans to increase recruitment to the social work sector, with Social Care Wales due to publish a social work workforce plan this summer.
The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said:
This announcement will provide much needed additional financial support for social work students. It will help more people train as social workers, help them remain on and complete their course and build capacity within the system. By supporting our future social workers as they take their first steps into the sector, we can better recruit and retain staff in the sector.
Our overall ambition for the health and social care workforce is for parity of esteem between the professions. Social workers carry out a vital role within our communities, supporting people to take charge of their own lives. They are at the core of our social care system and key to the delivery of effective care, which makes a real difference to individuals and to the communities in which they live.
Chief Social Care Officer for Wales, Albert Heaney said:
I am pleased that we have secured Welsh Ministerial agreement for an extra £3.5 million package of financial support for new social work students towards their courses from September. This funding, provided through the Social Work Bursary, will provide an extra boost to support both undergraduate and postgraduate students in Wales to undertake and complete their courses and increase the ranks of our invaluable social workers.
The Chief Executive of Social Care Wales, Sue Evans, said:
I am delighted to see further support from Welsh Government for the social care sector and specifically for social workers in Wales. Social Care Wales provided the evidence to enable Welsh Government to increase the bursary for social work students. We recognise and appreciate the invaluable work carried out by social workers across Wales and look forward to seeing more students joining the profession. We will shortly be publishing a workforce plan for social work that identifies the range of actions we need to take with partners to support the development and support for social workers in Wales who are working in every community of our country. Improving the bursary offer is a key element of this plan.
Further details of this new funding will be available on the Social Care Wales website.