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Scottish government urged to resist cuts to social work services

BASW Scotland convenor Graeme Rizza has written to the first minister Alex Salmond urging him to help safeguard social work services from Westminster spending cuts and offer the same recognition for social services as is currently given to the health sector.

Highlighting his concerns about the potential impact of the Westminster government’s Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October, Mr Rizza said cuts would pose a grave threat to the ability of social workers to protect vulnerable people.

‘BASW Scotland members who provide the day to day services for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are already toiling to meet the needs of the people who either seek our support or who are directed to us by other agencies. Social Workers are looking for support from our political leaders in the difficult work they undertake on behalf of society.

‘The contribution social work services make to the fabric of society is as important as that made by the NHS. We are writing to seek a political commitment from the Scottish government that, like the NHS, the contribution of a very skilled and experienced workforce is recognised in protecting people in our country from harm and abuse, and promoting the well-being of those who live within our borders.’

BASW Scotland also used the letter to Mr Salmond to flatly rebut a suggestion in Community Care magazine in September that Scotland is better served by social workers per head of population than England.

The magazine made the claim following a freedom of information request but BASW insisted the conclusions drawn were totally inaccurate. In the letter, Mr Rizza stated: ‘Community Care failed to take into account that criminal justice social work is integral to the local authority provision of social work services in Scotland and that we do not have a separate Probation Service – both unlike in England. If further research had been undertaken, Community Care would have found that there are less social workers in Scotland per head of population than England, taking into account the full range of services.’