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Queen’s Speech 2021: BASW England response

BASW England is calling for reform to social care that goes beyond addressing the injustices of social care funding

This week the Government set out its Parliamentary agenda and intentions for the year ahead. Despite the Prime Minister’s promise on the steps of 10 Downing Street in 2019 to “fix the crisis in social care”, 22 months later we got just nine words on the matter with a vague promise to “bring proposals forward”.

The Prime Minister had previously said a plan was ready, but no such details were included in the speech, leaving just a weak commitment to publish further details by the end of the year.

It is disappointing that the Government has ignored calls from across local government for a specific bill to be brought forward to help address the funding crisis and deliver meaningful reform.[1] Despite growing cross-party consensus, it is clear the issue comes down to the lack of political will.

BASW England has long been calling for reform to social care that goes beyond addressing the injustices of social care funding. Supporting people to be as independent as possible should be the focus, and in achieving this people also need greater, earlier certainty about whether their needs will be met and more transparency about how decisions are made. The social work role in supporting people to achieve this independence and to access and receive social care should be better articulated, with a clearer specification for social worker professional judgement within the overall local authority decision-making process. (For more information see ‘ten reforms we would like to see in social care’[2]. and the response to the Parliamentary Health & Social Care Committee Social care: funding and workforce inquiry[3]).

Social workers have daily direct contact with those impacted by the failure to bring forward much-needed reform. Government must act now to safeguard and avert future pressures arising from a lack of funding, outsourcing and capacity in the social care system.

We call on the Government to publish its plans as soon as they can to ensure the sector and workforce can be given the certainty they need.

BASW England also notes the proposals in the Health and Care White Paper We welcome their commitment to “…a more integrated, efficient and accountable health and care system - one which allows staff to get on with their jobs and provide the best possible treatment and care for their patients.” However, we remain concerned about plans to implement the discharge to assess policy which would effectively remove social work from initial decision making whilst also impacting the ability to uphold human rights. We will continue to scrutinise the proposals closely and respond accordingly as we await any further steps when a Bill is published.