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Short term funding is not the answer to reducing the unpaid work backlog, says Scottish Association of Social Work

Read our statement on the Scottish Government announcement regarding additional funding to assist the backlog of undelivered unpaid work.

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice has approved additional funding of up to £1m for 2020-21 to assist in reducing the backlog of undelivered unpaid work or other activity (UPW/OA) requirements imposed as part of Community Payback Orders, which has amassed during Covid-19.  A letter has been sent to Directors of Finance in local authorities this week.  

This new investment is specifically to support efforts to deal with the backlog of undelivered UPW/OA requirements, which are the result of court business being significantly reduced and justice social work capacity being impacted by restrictions around physical distancing.   

This new funding will be administered under section 27 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 for the local authorities to commission third sector services to help build capacity around UPW and work with justice social work locally to address the backlog highlighted. The Scottish Government intend to make this time limited funding available pan-Scotland to tackle areas where the need is greatest and apportion available resources where it will have the best impact. This new funding is to create additional temporary capacity for justice social work, through the commissioning of third sector services which will be determined and agreed locally.   

SASW's view is that short term funding is not the solution for the backlog of UPW/OA hours.  Increasing capacity in the Third Sector requires organisational expertise in the area of work, capacity to take on addition work, recruitment  of new workers, induction and training as a minimum.  Using this funding will also require addition work from commissioners and supervising social workers in the local authorities.  We will continue to support the call from across the sector to use the coronavirus legislation to reduce the number of outstanding hours as the most effective solution.