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Supporting social workers key to protecting children in Birmingham, says BASW

Social workers in Birmingham must be given “the tools to do their job”, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said in the wake of another damning Ofsted report for child protection in the city.

Ofsted labelled safeguarding children “inadequate” in every category. It criticised continued leadership failings, poor support for social workers and delays in implementing strategies, with children not being seen quickly enough or properly assessed.

BASW said providing social workers with the right working conditions, support and status was key to turning around the service.

BASW’s England Manager Maris Stratulis said: “Birmingham children’s services has experienced a long history of leadership instability, restructuring, lack of financial investment and a bureaucratic infrastructure which has directly impacted on the delivery of services to children and young people.

“What is needed in Birmingham is the same across the country where other social services departments are struggling – an environment that gives social workers the confidence and the tools to do their job.

“That means allowing social workers the time to work directly with families and children by reducing workloads and paperwork. It also means giving them the respect and status they deserve as highly-skilled professionals in terms of salaries and training opportunities.”

Ms Stratulis acknowledged the authority was doing its best to address shortcomings in a transparent and collaborative way and needed to be supported by central government rather than denigrated if it is to resolve problems, including difficulties recruiting social workers.

She said: “There are green shoots of improvement in Birmingham, as Ofsted acknowledges. Birmingham is the biggest urban authority in Europe and also has the youngest population with higher than average levels of deprivation. Inevitably that brings challenges, but it is also a fantastic city of great vitality that should be given all the resources and support it needs.

“We hope central government recognises this and do not use this Ofsted report as an excuse to outsource children’s services to the private sector, which we firmly believe would not be in the best interest of the city’s most vulnerable citizens.”