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SASW meets with Jackie Baillie MSP

This week, SASW National Director, Alison Bavidge, met with the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, Jackie Baillie MSP.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, SASW briefed opposition MSPs on the serious pressures faced by social workers and the considerable toll this is placing on their mental health. Read our letter here.

Ms Baillie contacted us to discuss in more detail the issues raised and support our campaign for improvements. Ms Baillie, who is also Health and Social Care spokesperson and a member of the Scottish Parliament's Health and Social Care committee which will scrutinise the National Care Service Bill, agreed that more must be done to improve mental wellbeing and working conditions for social workers who are facing a perfect storm of demand on services due to the pandemic and cost of living crisis.

Ms Baillie highlighted how Setting the Bar underlines the need for greater resources to be invested in social work to improve capacity and help retain the workforce. Moving away from a system of rationing towards one where social workers have more autonomy and resources is clearly desirable and beneficial. She also flagged up the worrying number of additional unpaid hours social workers are having to do which was revealed in the report, noting that this cannot be overlooked.

There was strong agreement with SASW for a trusted, accessible and supported social work profession that has a clear career pathway with training and development, a strong connection with communities and that practices in early intervention, relationship building and directly therapeutic work. With the National Care Service Bill now published, the discussion centred on how SASW could work with Scottish Labour to ensure social work is heard throughout the lengthy legislative process ahead and, ultimately, to achieve the best outcome for social work in the Bill itself. While Scottish Labour has reservations around the Scottish Government's vision for the National Care Service, there was agreement that much work needs to be done through secondary legislation to get it right for social work. 

Alison also took the opportunity to mention SASW's campaign for an increased mileage allowance for social workers. Ms Baillie has been one of the leading MSPs on this issue for health and social care workers in the Scottish Parliament and has agreed to write to Scottish Ministers on our behalf to highlight the impact it is having on social workers and urge them to take swift action to address it. We welcome Ms Baillie's support and intevention on this issue and look forward to seeing what response is received. 

It was reassuirng to hear Ms Baillie speak highly of social workers and understand many of the challenges facing the profession just now. SASW will continue to work closely with Ms Baillie and Scottish Labour to find ways through parliamentary mechanisms to raise the profile of social work and press the government to bring forward better support, investment and recognition for the profession. 

For more details about SASW's political lobbying and campaign work, please contact our Policy Officer on jonny.adamson@basw.co.uk