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BASW responds to Spring Statement 2019

Kicking the can of social care funding further down the road

Today, Phillip Hammond presented an economic forecast which said the UK had taken another step on the road to ending austerity. The British Association of Social Workers asks: ‘just how long is this road’?

In the 2018 Budget the chancellor stated “austerity is ending”, while the prime minister Theresa May went further in the Conservatives conference speech in October by claiming that “austerity is over”.

Unfortunately, these words will feel hollow to the most vulnerable citizens in our communities and to the public professionals working with them. 

This is due to the fact that once again, the budget provides no commitment to funding social care or addressing the massive hole in public sector funding.

Hammond has stated that a full spending review will happen before summer ready for the autumn statement. But this will be dependent on conclusion of Brexit negotiations.

With no roadmap for adult or children’s social care, nor for local government funding overall from 2020, we remain in limbo on the domestic crisis in much of our public services.

Shortly after the prime minister’s declaration last year, the government released its annual figures on children in need which, once again, showed the number of children coming into care increased – just as it has every year for nine years.

Meanwhile, a freeze on benefits and the harmful roll out, in-built delays and punitive sanctions of universal credit have forced people into foodbanks and further poverty.

Our most vulnerable families, and social workers who deliver services, need to know that the government is committed to addressing the critical deficits in funding for services for a decent society.

We will be representing the voice of social workers in our submission to the spending review when it happens.

Knife crime

While the chancellor’s announcement of ring-fenced investment for the police to tackle knife crime is welcome, it is nonetheless a small step.

Senior figures in police have repeatedly stated that we cannot arrest our way out of the scourge of knife crime and that it requires a holistic approach.

It is very disappointing then that we heard nothing today on reversing the cuts to local authority funding that has led to closures of thousands of youth clubs, mental health services and family help centres – all which provided a vital support service for youths and vulnerable families.

A refocus on social and a public health approach to knife and gang crime is the most evidence-informed approach we know.

This means resourcing earlier and more responsive support and resilience in families and communities.