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Key legislation becomes law after passing through the UK Parliament  — BASW in Westminster

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

Over the past year, BASW UK has been working with the national teams on a number of pieces of legislation that were going through the House of Commons. 

All three pieces of legislation - Health and Social Care Act, Nationality and Borders Act and Police, Crime and Sentencing Act - have now passed Parliament, and in turn have become law.

Health and Social Care Act

This legislation paved the way for Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to come into force as a means of delivering joint up care to all parts of England.

The new Act means that people in hospital can be discharged before a social care needs assessment is carried out. This will cause a lot of uncertainty for service users and their families, which could result in people not getting the care that they need. 

BASW England had several concerns with the legislation, especially around discharge to assess.

Like most pieces of legislation, there are positive and negative parts, with the new Act also introducing a ban on virginity testing, and a requirement to be more accountable to the UK Parliament. 

Nationality and Borders Act

This legislation contains a series of changes that are designed to do no more than make the UK seem tough on immigration and asylum seekers. It was met with widespread opposition from NGOs, charities, and groups including BASW.

BASW has major concerns with the changes to carrying out age assessments on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The UK Government has made it permissible for ‘scientific methods’ to be carried out on young people whose age has been disputed. If a young person refuses to undergo a scientific method – which are yet to be determined – this will harm their credibility and claim for asylum. 

Police, Crime and Sentencing Act

Much of our opposition to this legislation is the impact that it would have on the Gypsy and Traveller communities.

Part 4 of this Act will see those who ‘trespass with intent to reside’ potentially facing time in prison, a £2500 fine and/or the confiscation of their vehicle (which is also their home and contains their possessions).

The UK Government has failed to ensure that adequate, legal sites are provided - and instead has decided to discriminate Gypsy and Traveller communities further in addition to the discrimination that they already face.

The Bill also makes changes around the right to protest, with ‘noise’ caused by a protest becoming a criminal offence. Yet the Government have failed to determine what level of ‘noise’ is too loud, and puts unnecessary powers and responsibilities into the hands of police officers. The plans have been described as unworkable, unnecessary, and unfair. 

Moving forward

BASW in Parliament lobbies against legislation that impacts social worker practice - and pushes forward ideas that we support in relation to social workers and social work practice.

The current UK Government has a large majority in Parliament - and as a result can pass any legislation that they want, no matter the level of opposition to their plans. 

Despite the Government being able to 'railroad' through anything that they want, it's important that we campaigned against their plans that impact social work practice, as there will come a time in the future when we may be able to campaign to change or revoke parts of the legislation.