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Social workers can influence political debate: your voice counts!

Crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham leads the peers to defeat key elements of the Children and Social Work Bill.

On 8 November, following a concerted sector-wide campaign, the Children and Social Bill reached its final day of scrutiny within the Lords. The day culminated with significant amendments being passed, which have deleted government proposals to deregulate statutory children’s services and sidestep children’s legal rights.

Peers voted 245 to 213 in support of Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment to remove clause 29, the strength of cross-party support defeating government proposals.

Clause 29 of the Children and Social Bill proposed powers to enable local authorities to apply to the Secretary of State to ‘opt-out’ of an array of statutory duties governing the delivery children’s social work services. These duties have been built-up carefully over decades, holding the best interests of children at their heart, founded on human rights principles, social justice, welfare, and international and domestic statute.

Lords Ramsbotham informed the debate by sharing that the proposals were opposed by frontline social workers, and went on to state: “These clauses seem like a bad idea dreamed up in Whitehall that have not been properly evaluated or impact assessed.”

Two major criticisms cited by both opposition and crossbench peers was the lack of any engagement or consultation with the sector prior to publishing the bill in June. The absence of a credible evidence-base to support the controversial changes was also noted.

Lord Watson, Labour’s education spokesperson in the Lords said: “The wide ranging powers would lead to a postcode lottery in legal safeguards for children.”

The Children and Social Work Bill will now move to the House of Commons for further debate by ministers – where the deleted clauses could be reintroduced by government.

BASW England, alongside partner organisations will continue to campaign, lobby and exert pressure to ensure this does not happen and the voice of social work and social workers is heard and listened to. Children’s rights must be preserved.

BASW England will be holding a Social Work Lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 16 November.

Members are asked to assemble between 11:30-12:00 in Old Palace Yard in front of the Palace of Westminster next to the statue of George V, before passing through security. MPs will then meet with us in Committee Room 12 between 12:30-14:30

CLICK HERE to join the lobby providing your name and your MP’s name and we will arrange for their attendance on the day.

CLICK HERE to take our survey to help inform the debate.

Please come and join BASW England on the day – add your voice to this important campaign, meet your local MP and share first-hand your concerns about the future of the profession and the importance of upholding the rights of vulnerable children.