Victims of abuse are taking legal action against local authorities in England and Wales who they say should have given them better protection.
But successful claims against alleged social worker negligence are only producing awards of around £5000, lawyers have said, while they tend to be lengthy and expensive. However, in one recent case a woman was given £35,000 after settling a case against her local authority for failing to protect her from abuse.
Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, the professional body for social workers, told the BBC that moves towards taking legal action against councils for what social workers did or didn't do at the time would not help the profession.
"Resources are getting tighter, it's more difficult to do effective social work," she said. "It's probably a contributory factor to social workers leaving the profession."
But one solicitor was quoted as saying that such cases laid social services open to the glare of the court, adding: "Sometimes social workers and those who employ them don't quite get it. They don't quite get that they are accountable."