BASW has expressed serious concern at comments by the new and unelected Chair of The College of Social Work that she expects four more years of government funding and is seeking ways around data protection legislation so it can automatically opt-in all local authority social workers whose employers have signed up to Corporate Membership.
In an interview with The Guardian, the TCSW Chair, Jo Cleary, a local authority director, also made it clear that she does not feel social workers can be trusted to lead the College, which is why most of its board and professional assembly have been appointed rather than elected.
Commenting on the interview, BASW’s elected Chair Fran Fuller said: “BASW has spent recent months getting on with the job of supporting our members and developing new services, resisting wherever possible public criticism of the direction of the College of Social Work in a bid to prevent the sort of conflict with which social workers were understandably fed up.
“Comments like these, however, just cannot be ignored. They indicate a worrying continuation of the College leadership’s view that they have a divine right to lead the profession, and that social workers cannot be trusted to take the lead in what should be their organisation.
“What is even more extraordinary is TCSW’s confession, without any sense of embarrassment, that it is now exploring ways of getting around data protection laws in order to make social workers automatically members wherever their employer has joined its Corporate Membership scheme.
“TCSW has had £6.5 million of taxpayer money during the worst period of austerity in 80 years, enabling it to charge hugely subsidised fees for membership, yet has only managed to attract 4,241 members. Now that taxpayer money and local authority discounts haven’t worked, it is looking to find dubious ways around important legislation to drive up numbers."
BASW also highlighted Articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which make it clear that no employer should require staff to be a member of a professional association or trade union. Employers can only insist on staff being a member of the regulatory body that gives them their professional licence to practise.
Ms Fuller added: “What this interview also exposes is the reality that TCSW’s business model simply doesn’t add up, which is why it is now admitting, again shamelessly, that it will need another four years of government money to survive. That’s another four years of being tied both to Government funding and Government policy.
“The Social Work Task Force report called for an independent College so it is important now, four years on, to be absolutely clear that we do not have one.
“Unelected, unaccountable, receiving £1,533 in public subsidy per member, without a viable economic model and led by employers – it is time ministers acted to prevent a continuation of this failed model for a College of Social Work.”