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BASW’s campaign continues as cuts begin to bite

BASW is urging social workers in all parts of the UK to highlight examples of public spending cuts impacting on social work services. The Association is also urging members to lobby MPs and ministers for social work to be spared from cuts that would undermine services to the most vulnerable people in society.

The Association is planning to step up its Not Doomed Yet campaign in the run up to the Comprehensive Spending Review, planned for this autumn. MPs from all UK parties signed an Early Day Motion in May calling on the government ‘to give priority to investing in social work, even at a time of public expenditure cuts, so that no-one in the UK can ever be written off as doomed’ [].

Cuts are already beginning to impact on frontline social workers, with car allowances being removed in Derby and long-serving social workers at Nottinghamshire county council having their annual leave cut by three days. Examples of spending cuts to wider council services are beginning to emerge right across the UK, including Renfrewshire Council in Scotland which is shedding 10% of its non-teaching workforce by March 2011.

The UK coalition budget in June intensified concerns with the chancellor George Osborne imposing a two-year public sector pay freeze for public sector workers in England which BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson said would “massively undermine attempts to attract and retain social workers to severely understaffed child protection teams”. An online BASW survey last month found that only 5% of child protection teams are fully staffed and 52% are struggling with social worker shortages of 30% or more.

Funding for services outside of England also look set to fall once the details of Westminster cuts emerge fully in the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October 2010. The government in Scotland is already believed to be considering a similar public sector pay freeze, and it seems inevitable that devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales will face similar pressures as the UK government accelerates its efforts to reduce the public spending deficit.

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