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BASW UK provides briefing to MPs on Arthur Labinjo-Hughes case

The briefing was used by several MPs to call for properly resourced children’s social care

In the House of Commons yesterday (Monday 6 December), the Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi MP gave a statement to Members of Parliament about action that the Government was taking specifically in relation to the horrific murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, and wider child protection and safeguarding.

Ahead of the statement, BASW UK circulated a briefing to Members of Parliament with our initial response to the tragic death of Arthur, and further information about pressures on the workforce, the impact of COVID-19, and learning lessons moving forward.

The briefing was used by several MPs to make the case about the need for properly resourced children’s social care, with Cat Smith MP asking the Minister whether he would meet with the British Association of Social Workers to discuss recruitment and resourcing – to which he agreed.

Diane Abbott MP and Munira Wilson MP asked about the pressures on social workers and lack of numbers, and John McDonnell MP called for an emergency funding package for children’s services. Former social worker Janet Daby MP raised the issue of social workers being overwhelmed and spending most of their time doing bureaucratic work.

During his statement and in response to questions from MPs, the Minister referred many times to the children’s care review being carried out by Josh MacAlister, making a strong indication that decisions on a way forward will not be made until that review has come to an end next year.

Communication between partners was a recurring issue raised during the statement, with several MPs including Solihull MP Julian Knight questioning why social services, the police and educators were not communicating with each other. This was backed by David Simmonds MP, who raised the weakness in local safeguarding partnerships models as schools and education are not a statutory safeguarding partner.

The harrowing case of Arthur will stay with many of us for a long time, as it will for lawmakers and decision makers such as Members of Parliament. The Secretary of State through repeated references to the children’s care review has made it clear that it will be a major step in reviewing child protection processes, and BASW will be ready to see what legislative proposals are brought forward by the Government.