Skip to main content

BASW presses local authority chiefs to spare social work from spending cuts

BASW has this week written to every local authority in England urging council leaders to spare frontline social work services from spending cuts.

In a letter sent to each local authority chief executive, Hilton Dawson BASW’s chief executive, said that social work services ‘are services which must receive priority for better support and development as reductions in public expenditure make things even more difficult for people facing the acute circumstances with which social workers deal’.

The move came after Mr Dawson gave evidence to Treasury officials charged with planning local government expenditure in preparation for the Comprehensive Spending Review in October.

Mr Dawson told local authorities the strong messages he had given to the Treasury: ‘The view I expressed was that child protection, support for looked after children and social work with families of children in need and with adults are already at such a parlous state to permit no cuts whatsoever.’

‘I went on to say that there are huge inefficiencies in social work and that central and local government should address these issues immediately by radically amending the inspection regime, by dismantling bureaucratic requirements and insisting that their social workers do social work instead of serving an information machine,’ he added.

However, Mr Dawson told Treasury officials that he remained skeptical about the ability and willingness of local government to give social work the priority it needs. The message to local authority leaders and Treasury officials was stark: ‘It is our clear view that if councils continue to undermine the ability of social workers to do their job, continue to raise thresholds, reduce placement resources and spread social workers ever more thinly that the most vulnerable people that you serve will suffer and in fact that some of them will die.’

‘BASW has acquainted the Treasury with some major proposals which we have been developing with other parts of the coalition Government for the future of social work and we will be continuing to give evidence ahead of the spending review. I would be delighted to be able to inform officials that my skepticism is misplaced and I and they have been misinformed about the priority which local authorities are prepared to give to social work in difficult times,’ Mr Dawson continued.

He urged chief executives to take action today and carry out a ‘health check’ of frontline social work practitioners – a document recently promoted by the Social Work Reform Board Health Check Framework.

He concluded by asking chief executives or council leaders to respond to a mini questionnaire asking them what actions they are taking to protect social work services from cuts, what action are they taking to reduce bureaucracy for social workers and what meetings have been held with social workers to ensure they have adequate support in their roles.

The results will be published on the BASW website when the chief executives have responded to BASW’s request for information.