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BASW Chief Exec Ruth Allen comments on trust plan for Birmingham's children's service

Following an announcement that the running of Birmingham's children's services is to transfer to a new voluntary trust, Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said:

"We have to have a serious debate about how we do things differently. The situation in Birmingham is part of a national picture. Recent statistics suggest as many as one in five children's social worker posts in England is vacant. This lack of stability is not good for children and it isn't good for the workforce. We have to move forward positively with a clear commitment to improve services and the conditions social workers work in.

"Birmingham is the biggest local authority and its size in itself poses particular questions about the delivery of services. Birmingham has made a lot of improvements and members who work there tell us they are encouraged to focus much more on what is really happening in the life of the child. Birmingham and the Department for Education have jointly decided the changes are not happening fast enough and are trying to preserve the progress that has already been made.

"Services need to be properly resourced and while there is a clear Government agenda to move away from conventional public services, scrutiny and public accountability has to remain a central part of any new model of service delivery. This is a testing time for the council and it is aware that staff need to be supported through a change process and also during the forthcoming Ofsted inspection. It is also important to retain public trust and reassure people in the city that children will be kept safe."