Queen's Speech 2021: BASW response
It is hugely disappointing that no plan or commitment was made to address the social care crisis
This week, the Queen delivered her speech to Parliament which outlines the Government’s legislative plans for the session ahead.
Some of these plans impact the whole of the UK, but most of them are more specific to England due to health and social care being a devolved matter.
It is hugely disappointing that no plan or commitment was made to address the social care crisis with the Government saying it will publish plans later this year.
This is a line that the sector and wider public will have heard for many years, and we seem to be no closer to achieving true, positive reform.
BASW England is producing a more in-depth response to social care reform, which will be published this week.
More broadly, the Speech outlines the plans for key pieces of legislation. Some of them have already come to Parliament, others are completely new. When specific proposals are made that relate to social work, or a consultation is published BASW will then respond. Key elements include:
1) Professional Qualifications Bill
This proposed legislation will create a new framework to recognise professional qualifications from across the world to ensure the UK can access professionals in areas of workforce shortage, which has been a significant area of concern due to our withdrawal from the European Union.
2) Conversion Therapy Ban
The Government has long promised to ban conversion therapy, and in this Queen’s Speech they have said that they will bring forward a consultation. This has angered many people as it has been consulted on for a number of years already, and it appears the Government is planning on making concessions.
3) Police Crime and Sentencing Bill
This controversial bill has been met with a lot of opposition since it was published, and it is due to go to Committee Stage this month. The key elements include restrictions on the right to protest, and increased police powers to further discriminate against people from the Gypsy, Roma Traveller (GRT) community. A positive inclusion on the Bill is the further restriction on having a relationship with a person under 18 if you have a duty of care over them. This is also the Bill that gives greater protections to public sector workers on the frontline – except social workers. BASW launched a petition in response to this earlier this year.
4) Immigration Bill
The consultation on the Government’s proposals has just closed. The proposals are far-reaching. You can read BASW’s response to the proposals.
5) Online Harms Bill
Part of this Bill will be looking at the safety of children online. The specific proposals are awaited.
6) Commission on Race
In the speech, the Queen read that measures will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities. Last year, an independent commission on race and ethnic disparities was established to examine where inequality exists across the UK. Among other controversial opinions, the commission argued that structural racism does not exist. The Government is now considering the findings, and BASW will respond when they are published.
7) Election Integrity Bill
The Government are planning on bringing in new laws that will require voters to take photo ID to the polling station in order to cast a vote. That is currently not the law in England, Wales and Scotland.
There are significant concerns that this will disenfranchise those who do not have photo ID (e.g. many people do not drive, or do not have a passport) and who will find the additional administrative task a significant barrier to voting.
England and Wales
1) Mental Health Act Reform
Following on from the consultation held earlier this year, the Government will bring legislation to Parliament to amend the Mental Health Act. Once the details of the legislation have been proposed, we can consider further campaigning activity in an attempt to improve the legislation.
2) Victims Bill
The purpose of this proposal is to put into law the rights that were set out in the Victims Code and improve victims of crime experiences of the criminal justice system.
1) Health and Care Bill
This Bill is designed to undo reforms initiated by former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in 2012. There are still concerns about what the role of social workers will be in a more ‘integrated, efficient and accountable health and care system’. Any proposals should uphold human rights, and we will make that case when the Bill is published.
2) Social Care Reform
Meaningful social care reform has once more been kicked into the long grass, with the Government saying it will publish plans later this year. This is a line that the sector and wider public will have heard for many years, and we seem to be no closer to achieving true, positive reform. BASW England is producing a more in-depth response to social care reform
3) Renters Reforms
Many of the poorest in society are in expensive, poor quality rented housing where they are able to be evicted and face the struggle of having to find the funds for high deposits. The detail of these reforms will be important to understanding the impact that this would have on renters.