BASW has called for greater cohesion in the planning of services following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. The main announcement regarding social care was local authorities being given the green light to increase council tax by 2% each year, provided this is ring-fenced to adult social care. Mental health is to receive a £600m investment, while children’s social care spending has remained static at more than £300m per year. George Osborne also announced he was abandoning plans to scrap tax credits.
Commenting on the Autumn Statement, BASW Chair Guy Shennan said: “The government’s U-turn on tax credits, while welcome, shows that austerity is a political choice rather than economic necessity. While concessions have been made, this is a temporary reprieve before Universal Credit is implemented fully. In addition, social workers are having to deal with the pain caused by years of cuts to public services and help for vulnerable people. The £600m ‘investment’ in Mental Health is actually a rebate as it is simply replacing what has been taken away from services in the past five years. Regarding local authorities raising revenue for services via a 2% rise in council tax, there is a real issue of parity between councils as poorer or more densely populated areas are likely to have a greater scale of need and demand for services.
“There has been scant mention of support for vulnerable families and children apart from greater investment in the Troubled Families initiative, the success of which is in dispute. Lack of support for families in a climate of austerity just heaps more pressure on local services, which are then in turn deemed to be failing. Likewise, a lack of a joined up approach to funding for adult social care and health services puts pressure on the NHS to plug gaps in social care provision. We are in a terrain of vicious austerity for the poor and tax cuts for the rich when we need virtuous economic choices. The government’s pursuit of an austerity strategy places unbearable pressure on families that can break them and social work can't mend them without resources”.