BASW Chief Executive Bridget Robb says the swell of support for Jeremy Corbyn as new Leader of the Labour Party shows how out of touch the Government is about the public appetite for privatisation.
Ms Robb was responding to David Cameron’s ‘Smarter State’ speech in which the Prime Minister championed privatisation of state services and said many of the country’s efforts to ‘extend opportunity’ had been ‘undermined by a sort of tolerance of state failure: children-in-care and prisons being two absolutely standout areas”. The PM also said: “What energises many markets are new insurgent companies, who break monopolies and bring in new ways of doing things”.
Commenting on the speech, Bridget Robb said: “Just as you can’t separate the effect of economic forces from the increase in child poverty, you can’t dismiss the effect of cuts to services on the quality of services provided by local authorities. Particularly when private companies are benefitting from this under-investment.
“If the government would just admit this, then perhaps the social work sector could have a full and frank discussion about its future. Instead the Government seeks to insult our intelligence with a series of carefully crafted smokescreens.
“Social workers in children's services are providing a good service in many areas, but even the best are hamstrung by the narrowness of vision of this government. Social workers can, and are, going on saving children's lives one by one - but the scale of child abuse and exploitation in this country means this is no longer enough.
“The number of children coming into care is sky rocketing. We need to challenge policy that is based on explaining social problems on the bad behaviour or choices of the poorest people. There is a need to move away from blaming and punishing people and social work has a role in standing up for social justice.
“We need to challenge government policy that increases social inequality and denies equality and respect to the people we work with. Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning victory shows the Government is out of touch on many issues of concern to the public, privatisation being one of them.
“Social workers are all for innovation and improvement but in the context of accountability and not profit. In June 2014, in response to a consultation where just 2% of respondents agreed with proposals, the Department for Education (DfE) said it was scrapping plans to outsource local authority children’s services to private companies. Just days later, the DfE published revised legislation stating all private companies will have to do is set up a non-profit subsidiary.
“The parent private company will still be able to dictate to the subsidiary and charge for services. So private companies can still profit from contracts to provide child protection and other children’s services. Now we have decisions on what gets funded by the Children’s Social Care Innovation fund being administered by The Spring Consortium, which comprises Deloitte, Innovation Unit and Mutual Ventures.
“Social workers must work with local communities and other agencies to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people. To shut social workers off in professional isolation is setting them up to fail not only the children they serve but to squander their talents. Children's services need the support of the government to meet the new challenges ahead - not their condemnation and threats of imprisonment for individual workers.
“Jeremy Corbyn has urged the public to send him questions for PMQs. We urge all social workers to send in questions about the government’s privatisation of state social services”.
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