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This Week in Westminster: War in Ukraine, Nationality and Borders Bill, Human Rights Act

Kerri Prince, BASW UK Public Affairs Lead, provides an update from Westminster

War in Ukraine

Since I last wrote an update on Westminster, a lot has changed. It seems hard to believe that it wasn’t too long ago that we were social distancing, minimising our contact with others, and watching 5pm COVID briefings on the news. 

The world remains a frightening and uncertain place. Russia has declared war on Ukraine, and many of us are watching the significant impact that the war is having on Ukrainians, and the threat it poses to the stability of the world. 

BASW UK has released a statement on the war in Ukraine, and we reiterate our call for the UK Government to not only work with other world leaders to bring the war to an end - but also to ensure that the people of Ukraine have our support and assistance through humanitarian relief. 

Boris Johnson has released a 6-point plan on responding to the war but has been met with criticism that the UK has reportedly only issued 50 visas to Ukrainians.  

BASW members who have been following our activity on the Nationality and Borders Bill will know that this Government has a terrible reputation on supporting refugees and those fleeing conflict and war around the world. The eyes of the world are on the actions of countries such as the UK, and the UK Government won’t be able to evade action indefinitely. 

UK Parliament legislation 

The Nationality and Borders Bill is still going through its legislative stages and continues to be scrutinised by the House of Lords this week. 

BASW has been working with MPs and Lords to make BASW’s position known, particularly on parts relating to age assessment of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. 

The Health and Care Bill is also in the House of Lords, and on Monday 7th March Lords voted to retain the principle and duty on a hospital to ensure that a patient must be safe to discharge from hospital.

The Lords also voted to remove the clause in the Bill which introduces the cap on care costs, which has been loudly opposed in the social care sector. The Bill continues its Report Stage in the Lords, and will go to the Commons once more after it has passed the Lords. 

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is in its ‘ping pong’ stage, which the Commons and the Lords thrashing out the final wording of the Bill. 

The Human Rights Act is being “reformed”, and the Government have put out a consultation that closes today (8th March 2022). 

BASW UK published our own consultation with members on the contents of the Government’s proposals, and we will use the responses from members to feed into our final response to the Government. 

World Social Work Month

BASW has a month of activities to make World Social Work Month, and on the day itself (15th March), we are excited to have a prominent member of the House of Lords talking about a key issue facing the profession and the wider world with some young people with lived experience. Watch this space!

Meeting with the Department for Education 

Following on from Cat Smith MP asking the Secretary of State for Education in the House of Commons whether he would agree to meet with BASW and the APPG for Social Work, we met with the Secretary of State in his office on 1st March to discuss retention of social workers and working conditions in the profession. It was good to see that the Secretary of State was enthusiastic about his job and heard from BASW about the experiences our members have had. 

Building relationships with politicians is a key part of influencing decision-makers, and we will continue to do this will politicians across Parliament and other levels of Government. 

The world of politics moves quickly, and what we’re talking about this week may not be on our agenda next week. But we will keep you informed of how we’re campaigning on your behalf.