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BASW statement on no deal Brexit bill and political future

A no deal Brexit carries unacceptable risks for social care professionals

With a no deal Brexit currently being debated and being subject to the outcome of a potential general election, BASW is reiterating its position against leaving the EU without a deal.

As the professional association for social workers and social work, BASW’s position is that a no deal Brexit is unacceptable for it carries major risks and implications for social care, social workers and people who use services.

An abrupt departure from the EU would spark a major disruption to social work’s workforce, which is why we are calling for EU nationals in social work to have full reassurance of their leave to remain and to work in the UK.

Also, an increase in social workers recruited from within the UK will be needed if Brexit uncertainty results in social workers who are EU nationals leaving the country.

Yesterday, The King's Fund, the Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust voiced similar concerns in an open letter to MPs, outlining a “very real risk that leaving the European Union without an agreement could exacerbate the workforce crisis in health and care, drive up demand for already hard-pressed services”. 

In addition, there can be no return to a hard border of any kind in Northern Ireland. To this effort, BASW will be heading to the International Federation of Social Workers’ annual conference next week, and with the Irish Association of Social Workers and BASW NI have asked for a paper to be added to the agenda.

This paper asks for support from European colleagues in writing to their elected MEPs about the specific issues facing Ireland and the wider issues for social work arising from Brexit.

There are specific concerns for people who use services, such as looked-after children and care leavers from the EU, who may struggle to meet the government’s deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

It has been reported that only 12% of the application to the scheme by June 2019 came from children under 16. 

The fear is that many families, children and vulnerable persons would not apply in time, and therefore this places an unfair burden on social workers working with these persons.

In a wider context, a no deal Brexit will create further uncertainty over funding and provision for social work in the UK, following a decade of austerity policies that has created a massive funding gap in social care.

It has been one of BASW’s key stated aims to lobby for an end to austerity policies and welfare cuts that have created profound inequality, poverty and harm to children, adults and families across the UK.

A no deal Brexit threatens the economic wellbeing of the UK, social cohesion and opportunities for prosperity and equality. We will continue to press and lobby government and all political parties for a negotiated settlement to minimise any risk or uncertainty.

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