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BASW tells Pickles to stop bullying the poor

Commenting on plans to be unveiled tomorrow by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles that all 152 top-level councils in England will be incentivised to send in “trouble-shooters” to deal with problem families, Nushra Mansuri, professional officer, British Association of Social Workers, said:

“Is the government saying that being poor is a crime? This figure of 120,000 ‘problem families’ being bandied about is cobbled together from research that was conducted 8 years ago, and was based on families having 5 out of 7 characteristics, including no parent in work, and having a low income.

“In today’s economic climate, that could apply to many, many families. A family having problems does not automatically equate to them being labelled a ‘problem family’ and causing a nuisance to anyone else. This is particularly unfair when the government’s austerity programme is driving so many more people into poverty.

“The government also needs to decide whether there is a link between deprivation and crime or not. At the time of last summer’s riots, David Cameron said: “These riots were not about poverty. That insults the millions of people who, whatever the hardship, would never dream of making others suffer like this.”

“Now we have the government stirring up hatred against poor families, stigmatising them and attempting to dismiss the entire social work profession as wishy washy do-gooders.

“If Mr Pickles was “fluent in social work”, he would realise that cutting back social work services to children and families and not deploying frontline social workers in the most effective way is not the answer. Early intervention ends up costing the state less both financially and socially.

“As for dispensing with the ‘it’s not my fault’ culture, perhaps the government could start by ending the blame culture. Going after a tiny minority and constantly pillorying them is not the most effective means of promoting social inclusion and community cohesion, it tends to up the ante and promote self-fulfilling prophecies of failure for some families and sadly, poor outcomes for children.

“The government seeks to punish and bully people for being disadvantaged. We fail to see how this will result in a fairer and more harmonious society for any of us.”