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National care service must focus on “reducing crisis and strengthening communities”, says Scottish Association of Social Work

***for immediate release***

The Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) has called for the creation of an “accessible and trusted service, delivered by respected and supported professionals” in their response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on a National Care Service. The proposals have been hailed by the Association as the “biggest reforms to social work since the 1968 Social Work (Scotland) Act”.  

National Director of the Association Alison Bavidge said: “Over the last 10 weeks, we have engaged extensively with our members, people who use social work services, their carers and other key stakeholders. People who use services tell us the current system isn’t working. Social workers are not doing the work they came into the profession to do. We are at a stage where the social contract between the profession and those it serves is at best strained. Government now needs to decide whether we continue this trajectory, or whether we redirect.

Social workers want to be able to use our full range of skills and experience to build strong communities, and support individuals and families before they reach crisis. We particularly welcome proposals on a National Social Work Agency, and view this as a key opportunity to protect the future of social work in Scotland.  We recognise that, whatever the decisions by Government, change will bring opportunities but also the potential for fracture and disruption to existing support services and partnerships across the sector; a sector which has just emerged from the experience of the pandemic, as well as a significant restructure only five years ago. SASW is committed to working in partnership with key stakeholders and to engaging positively with the Government programme set to follow in the new year.”

70% of respondents to SASW’s social work in a National Care Service survey want change. Almost two thirds of those want a National Care Service. Key messages for Government from the Association’s response include:

  • A social model of care and support based in human rights, equalities, and inclusion. With a focus on equalities including anti-racism, the impact of poverty and disadvantage must be explicitly recognised and connected to other Government policy workstreams  
  • Social work should be an accessible, trusted and stigma-free public service.
  • Social workers must be able to practice in early intervention and prevention to improve outcomes, return balanced caseloads and contribute to ensuring that social work and social care are attractive and sought-after career choices. 
  • Social work’s three specialisms (adults’, children’s and justice services) must be located together to ensure effective support to people when they need it at all life stages. This needs thought and careful assessment of the options. 
  • Changes to structures and governance arrangements must simplify the experience for people using services and those who support them.   


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