British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland Statement on the deal to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland
The British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASW NI) encourages our political parties to show leadership, and where necessary, demonstrate the strength to compromise in order to support the proposals outlined in the New Decade New Approach draft agreement.
After three years of drift, public services are crumbling and the strain is being felt both by those who provide services and those who use them. The time for restoration of a NI Executive is long overdue.
The social work sector faces many challenges which urgently require the attention of a Health Minister. The proposal for a long-term funding strategy to transform the Health and Social Care service must address the high number of vacancies in social work, support workforce planning to ensure future need is met, and streamline bureaucracy to enable staff to focus on social work, not paperwork.
NI is in the grip of a mental health crisis and while BASW NI welcomes the proposal for an Executive to publish a Mental Health Action Plan within two months and a Mental Health Strategy by December 2020, we urgently need funding to facilitate an increase in the number of mental health social workers.
The draft agreement recognises the need to immediately settle the ongoing pay dispute and makes specific reference to nurses’ pay. It is essential that social workers also benefit from resolution of the dispute. Failure to do so would lead to disparity within Health and Social Care in NI, as well a lack of equality with colleagues in Great Britain.
We encourage parties to back the agreement which commits to deliver a fair and compassionate society that supports the most vulnerable via developing and implementing an Anti-poverty Strategy and extension of existing welfare mitigation measures beyond March 2020. However, action will still be required to strengthen welfare reform mitigations to address the impacts associated with Universal Credit, particularly the two-child limit.
To address these, and many other pressures facing the social work profession, BASW NI urges our political parties to show generosity of spirit and agree to work together for the benefit of all members of our society.
Compromise is not a dirty word.
Andy McClenaghan, Communications and Public Affairs Officer,
firstname.lastname@example.org / 07702 517560