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This Week in Westminster - Friday 22 January

Kerri Prince, Public and Political Affairs Lead for BASW UK, provides members with an update from Westminster

Since I last wrote a ‘This Week in Westminster’ report, a lot has happened.

The poor provision of free schools meals in England has continued to be prominent in news headlines and all over social media, with images of substandard food parcels popping up from all over the country. Companies providing these parcels receive £30 for each child – and many sums carried out show that the contents of these boxes were barely £5. Lots of organisations and individual campaigners such as Marcus Rashford continue to campaign on this, with the economic effects of COVID-19 expected to be felt for months, or even years, to come.

A similar issue that was the subject of an Opposition Day debate on Monday is that of the £20 Universal Credit uplift that is due to expire in April. BASW added our voice to the campaign by writing the Chancellor and Department for Work and Pensions calling on them to retain the uplift. We know that there is a link between poverty and social work intervention, so the Government must do everything they can to ensure that families facing the added financial pressure of losing £20 a week. We circulated a briefing to MPs on Monday morning and Member of Parliament Stephen Timms made our point that there has been an increase of children in care since austerity measures were introduced. We will keep pressure on the Government to do the right thing for people up and down the country who cannot afford to lose those funds.

A consultation on the Mental Health Act has been launched by the Department for Health and Social Care, and BASWs Westminster team will be looking at the legislation whenever it comes to Parliament to review what’s good, what’s not so good, and what we want to change.

The England Children’s Care Review has also been launched, and you can read BASW England’s statement here. This is another area we’ll be keeping an eye on, to see what may come to Parliament to be approved.

Chief Executive Officer Ruth Allen wrote to the Home Office regarding the new rules about deportation of non-UK nationals who are sleeping rough. People who are homeless are not homeless by choice. Government should be supporting people to get back on their feet rather than add the worry of being deported.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is currently going through the House of Lords, and will resume Committee stage on Monday 25th January.

England, Wales and Scotland have elections coming up in May, although there is some speculation that these might be delayed again depending on how well the vaccine roll out goes.

The Budget is on 3rd March, and we’ll be publishing a piece on what we want to see in the budget ahead of the Chancellor’s statement.

As always, Parliament moves quickly and we’ll be ready to respond to key issues that affect social workers and the people who social workers support.