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Why not Dilnot? Government must not “shy away” from its recommendations

BASW is calling for the immediate implementation of the extra funding proposed by the Dilnot Commission and for the government to entrench reforms of social care by giving social workers a definitive role in care services.

Responding to the publication of the white paper on adult care, BASW is urging ministers to seize a “rare opportunity” to provide better care services by immediately implementing Dilnot’s recommendations of a £35,000 cap on care costs per person, giving urgent priority funding for adult social care, which is in crisis, and recognising the fundamentally important role of social workers in adult services by:

a) protecting the role and function of social workers in law – alongside the already legally defined protection of title; and

b) introducing a statutory definition of social work.

Both measures would act to prevent the watering down of the social work role through the inappropriate use of unqualified staff, a growing trend with potentially dangerous consequences for vulnerable adults. These issues were included in a draft social work bill published by BASW in 2010.

On the detail of today’s white paper, BASW is concerned that the announcement on plans for state loans and deferred payments doesn’t change anything for individual and families already being hammered by the current system.

It has the ring of the Labour plan the Conservatives dubbed “a death tax” while in opposition, except without a cap on contributions. It is the introduction of a cap and public funding to support this that would make a real difference to lives.

BASW believes the suggestion of an extra £300m in funding, diverted from the NHS, would be welcome but the stark reality is that the sector has lost £900m this year and £1.89bn over last two years, so its impact is, sadly, likely to be more about damage limitation than much needed investment.

BASW does welcome a number of other aspects of the white paper:

  • Plans for a national eligibility framework to provide a common level of service upon which authorities can improve but never go below – vital after a BASW survey of 1,100 people this week revealed how 71% of social workers say eligibility criteria has been tightened to prevent needy people being able to receive services
  • A Principal Social Worker, working across children and adults services in each local authority to link frontline practice with senior management and to feed in to the work of the Chief Social Worker at government level.
  • Emphasising the crucial role of social workers in adult care & personalisation.
  • No young person to go without support while waiting to access adult services, after becoming ineligible for children’s services.
  • A focus on prevention and early intervention.
  • A strengthening of adult safeguarding.
  • A rationalisation of legislation and a move away from the ‘poor law’ language of much of the legislation currently in use
  • Portability – a person receiving care and support who moves will not have to start the process of applying for assistance all over again
  • A much needed increase in support for carers
  • Better training for those who are paid to offer care and support, with a new code of conduct.
  • £200 million for specialist housing so that people can stay at home longer.
  • Better information nationally and locally on care & support, including ‘comparison websites’ on quality of care.

BASW Chief Executive Hilton Dawson says:

“Older people and vulnerable adults have been neglected for far too long, there is consensus that the system requires fundamental change and the government must take this rare opportunity without any political game-playing or further procrastination.

“This is not the time for timidity; we want to see some real leadership to address the funding issues and create a service of which we can all be proud.

“We all have parents and we all hope to be old one day – let’s have some public services which are worthy of those who have sacrificed so much for our country in their lives.

“While the reality is that good services cost money it is also the case that sustained investment now will produce savings in the long term as well as a much needed boost to local economies and employment. Bad services are expensive as well as immoral.

“Over the next weeks and months, BASW will take an active campaigning role in this critical debate. We advocate on behalf of our members, many of them frontline social workers, in the hope that, along with the views of service users, carers, service providers, employers and others, we can positively influence government policy in this vital area.

“Let’s end the neglect of our older and vulnerable people and for once be proud that we are doing something right for people who deserve the best our country has to give.”