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Budget will place vulnerable people and those in poverty under ‘unbearable’ strain

BASW has warned that yesterday’s budget will place vulnerable people and those in poverty under ‘unbearable’ strain.

The main elements of the budget relating to users of social care services include; a reduction of the Benefits cap to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside of the capital, Tax Credit and Universal Credit limited to families with up to two children from 2017, a four year freeze for working age benefits, abolition of housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds for those deemed not vulnerable, scrapping of student maintenance grants and public sector pay awards restricted to 1% per year for the next four years.

Commenting on the budget, which the Government say aims to save £37bn over five years, BASW Chair Guy Shennan said: “This government should stop punishing the poor for the sins of the rich; we are worried this budget will place key groups in society under unbearable strain. It is likely that the people we serve will feel an even greater impact of austerity, which in turn places social workers and services under even more pressure.

“We are really concerned at the evidence we see of the detrimental impact of benefit cuts on the lives of so many people. From the budget, BASW would particularly like to know how young people will be assessed and monitored as ‘vulnerable’ in order to receive housing benefit. While the Government has pledged young people can stay in foster placements until the age of 21, this has not been extended to those in residential care. How will these young people be supported to leave care and what will happen to them if they are decreed to be ‘non-vulnerable’?

“Many social workers are already feeling exhausted from responding to higher demands for services from the public at a time of diminishing resources, and no doubt those working within the public sector will feel demotivated and demoralised by a 1% pay rise in each of the next four years. Recruitment and retention is a major issue for the sector and the reason we continue to rely on international recruitment. We are concerned that scrapping maintenance grants and the continued limitations of bursaries will deter students from studying to become social workers.

Mr Shennan stated: “The social work profession is profoundly committed to social justice and to working with people to cope with adversity. BASW will stand with people affected by this unjust budget and will work to ensure that our voices are heard together in opposing austerity and advocating a more just way forward."