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Wirral’s about-turn is a warning to others on the risks of cost cutting

BASW has endorsed the views of Graham Hodkinson, director of Adult Services at Wirral Council, in which he emphasised the importance of social work in the local authority’s future performance.

Commenting on Mr Hodkinson’s views, set out in a Community Care interview, Ruth Cartwright, BASW England manager, said: “Social work with adults is ill defined and, as such, more at risk. BASW is campaigning to have this work respected and protected.

“Two years ago, we listened with concern to news from members that social workers had been made redundant from Wirral Council but today we can take heart from the fact that Wirral has realised it needs social workers and that getting rid of them was a false economy – 16 new posts have been created and there will be greater professional support for social workers.”

Ms Cartwright said Wirral’s decision two years ago “compounded failures” identified in an independent report by Anna Klonowski and an adverse Care Quality Commission report from that time. The Klonowski inquiry looked into the claims of whistle blower Martin Morton, a former Wirral social services employee, who was bullied and forced out of his job. The council has since apologised to him.

She added: “BASW is now urging Graham Hodkinson to encourage his colleagues in the Association of Directors of Adult Services (ADASS) to follow his example. Many directors have made social workers redundant, or are planning to do so.

“It has been alleged that over 50% of directors of adult services see no need for social workers at all. It is time that directors and other senior managers valued social workers and their contribution to a truly excellent service, where service users are supported emotionally as well as physically, and person-centred practice can really take place.

“Perhaps Wirral’s experience will be a lesson to them on the dangers of knee-jerk cost cutting”.