British Association of Social Workers » News Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:37:25 +0000 en hourly 1 Social workers welcome expert panel report on the future of adult social care Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media

The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) has welcomed the publication of a report on the future of adult social care. The report was produced by a panel of social care experts established by former Minister of Health Michelle O’Neill MLA in December 2016.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Carolyn Ewart, NIASW Country Manager said: “Social care workers are the bedrock of our health and social care system. They provide invaluable support services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Social workers work hand in glove with social care colleagues and we are fully aware of the strain social care staff are under.”

Social workers arrange the delivery of social care services for a wide range of people, including older people, and people with a learning disability, a physical disability, or a mental health problem.

Discussing the challenges faced by the social care sector Ms Ewart explained: “The expert panel highlights social work can play a leadership role in reframing social care. There are extreme pressures in the social care system and the first step in showing leadership is calling for the necessary resources to be made available to ensure services are properly funded. This is vital if people who rely on social care, and their families, are to be provided the assistance they need to live independently and with dignity. Central to the delivery of high quality services is enabling staff to spend meaningful time with service users, paying heed to their emotional as well as their physical needs.”

Carolyn continued by commenting on the report’s recognition of the need to improve the status of care work, saying: “The health and social care system only operates well if there are enough social care workers to meet the ever-increasing demand. Central to attracting and retaining staff is having a motivated, valued and well-respected workforce, with social care becoming a career of choice.”

Ms Ewart concluded by saying: “Today’s report recognises the need for change, and highlights that in its current form, social care is a system collapsing in slow-motion. The needs of users of social care should be the top priority of all involved and we urgently require political leadership to take the tough decisions needed to deliver a social care system to be proud of.”



Notes for editors

  • Carolyn Ewart, NIASW Country Manager, will be available for interview.
  • The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) is part of the British Association Social Workers (BASW), the largest professional body for social workers in the UK. The Association has 21,000 members employed in frontline, management, academic and research positions in all care settings.
  • The Expert Advisory Panel Report, ‘Power to People: proposals to reboot adult care and support in NI’ is available from



  • Andy McClenaghan, Campaigns Officer
  • Phone: 028 9064 8873
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Calling BASW Members to share your views on how BASW is run - join open meetings on our new Articles of Association Sat, 09 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media We want to hear your views on how BASW is run and are inviting all members to come along to open meetings or join in the conversation via online webinar to ask questions and share your views on our new Articles of Association (The Articles). 

The Articles underpin the purpose and objectives of BASW and cover how the association is led by our members. Our aspiration is to have a constitution that will promote BASW as an outward facing organisation that is an even better champion of social workers and the people we work with.

BASW has already been seeking member views on our new Articles as reported to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in April 2017.  Thank you to all members who have already taken to the time to complete the online survey – please do continue to feed in your views here.  This feedback is very helpful to Council in shaping and giving instructions to our solicitors Bates Wells and Braithwaite (BWB) in drawing up the new articles.  We will soon be sharing the first draft of the new articles online.

Council is now keen to provide a valuable opportunity for members attend open meetings or join via a webinar during 14th and 15th December to give your views and ask questions on the Articles, which will soon be available to view. This will also be your opportunity to ask the solicitors (BWB) specific questions.

The open events have been set at venues across the UK and you can also join in the conversation online via webinar for the meetings in Belfast, Birmingham and Edinburgh.  If you wish to join a meeting please register for one of the following events:

14th December 2017, 9.30am – 12.30pm.  NIASW, Belfast office

14 December, 1.30pm-4.30pm – BASW head office, Birmingham

15th December, 9.30am -12.30pm at the Media Resource Centre, Llandrindod Wells, Powys (please note there is no webinar for this event)

15th December 1.30pm to 4.30pm.  SIASW, Shandwick Place, Edinburgh

We hope you will take this opportunity to contribute your views to this extremely important work for BASW.


Social workers are central to mental health services for children and young people. Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media The Government has published its Green Paper on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision.

BASW welcomes the Government's focus on mental health services for children and young people, but is dissatisfied by the omission of social workers from the Green Paper. 

The mental health needs of children and young people is something that impacts on all children’s social workers, whether they are working with children in the care system, children in the criminal justice system, children living with their families, children with disabilities, young carers, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and care leavers.  It is therefore a surprise that social workers and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services are not acknowledged formally within the document. 

The paper also refers to mental health support teams, but provides little insight into how these would operate.  Social workers are fundamental in working with other professionals within such a supportive multi-disciplinary remit and it is important the balance of these teams is not dominated by the NHS or a ‘medical model’ and incorporates social models too. 

Social workers have the essential knowledge and holistic understanding of how frontline services function, as well as skills and experience in direct work and must absolutely be recognised as part of the solution.  BASW will issue a fuller response after consultation with our members.

BASW will be sharing further information on the member consultation soon.

Human Rights Day: "Protect our fundamental human rights, both now and for the future" Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media On Human Rights Day BASW is joining the British Institute of Human Rights and over 140 supporters with a single aim – to get people talking about human rights. We are supporting an open letter to Prime Minister Teresa May and the heads of all political parties in the UK, urging them to protect our fundamental human rights, both now and for the future.

"As our government navigates the uncertainty of Brexit, people's human rights should not be at risk. We want the Prime Minister to avoid division and isolation, and rather than tampering with our legal protections, to instead commit to universal human rights in the UK."

Click here to view the letter.

We encourage you to get involved in the dialogue on Facebook or Twitter.

BASW England response to the publication of ‘Confidence in Practice’ – the response to the consultation on the National Assessment and Accreditation Scheme (NAAS) for children’s social care Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media The Department of Education (DfE) has published ‘Confidence in Practice’, the long-awaited government response to the National Assessment and Accreditation Scheme (NAAS) Consultation. This is a statement on behalf of BASW England.

BASW appreciates and fully supports ambitions for continuous improvement in social work practice, including the development of post-qualifying benchmarks and awards of achievement in specialist and advanced capabilities. The approach and concept of NAAS has, however, raised questions and concerns across the sector since inception, and the consultation response leaves many of these issues unaddressed or only partially answered.

We are pleased to see a stronger commitment to working with the practitioner and employer sectors, and the references to working with BASW, including working on the alignment of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) and Knowledge and Skills Statement (KSS). Confidence in Practice acknowledges the importance of the PCF in workforce development, education and practice.  

There is reference in the report to recruiting ‘more high calibre recruits’ to be ‘taught through a curriculum based on the Knowledge and Skills statement’.  We know high quality social workers already exist in the sector and we want high quality social workers for generations to come.  We recognise the value of a workforce derived from diverse backgrounds. We hope this reference to ‘calibre’ means the value brought to the profession by a range of personal qualities and abilities, and by the variety of training routes into the profession – including (soon) apprenticeships as well as mainstream BA and Masters programmes.

We are concerned and determined to ensure that the PCF remains at the heart of generic, initial social work education and the post-qualifying frameworks for the whole profession to improve coherence and consistency.

As the custodians of the PCF, BASW is relaunching the PCF in the first week of February 2018 and we are intent on ensuring social workers, employers and educationalists have clarity about how the PCF and KSS (and other specialist curricula) can work together to support good practice while ensuring a coherent social work identity.  We feel that the KSS statements paint a clear picture of what “good” looks like in some areas of practice. The challenge is more about how this is achieved.

We welcome and acknowledge the ‘more measured’ approach to roll out described in the document and the stated intention to evaluate incrementally its effectiveness and consequences in a small number of authorities in the initial and second phases. This is presented as mitigating risks of unintended consequences and implementation failures which were inherent in the earlier approach to widescale roll out of the scheme.

We are rather perplexed by the reference to the ‘child and family social work profession’.  The legal protected title is ‘social worker’ and remains thus under plans for new regulation. We would be very concerned if NAAS is seen to be stepping stone to creating a distinct ‘profession’. Child and family social work is a specialism within social work and its connectivity to other specialisms is important both for reasons of good practice (e.g. across the generations and across areas of need) and for workforce flexibility and changes of role through a lifelong career.

The rationale for NAAS is given overall as the need to raise standards of practice. The reports notes ‘failures of practice’ in 69% of Ofsted inspections since 2016, and practice improvement recommendations being made in 74% of cases and says this suggests a ‘systemic problem’ in practice.

We don’t fully recognise this stark claim about widespread or ‘systemic’ failure of individual practice and we continue to worry that this commentary is likely to exacerbate demoralisation and concomitant instability in an already turbulent workforce.

We believe fully addressing poor management and leadership, lack of continuous learning and career development opportunities, poor organisational culture, an overreliance on process and bureaucracy (and squeeze on time for direct work) and chronic underfunding may be more important determinants of ‘quality’ than testing individuals’ competence.

We appreciate changes in professional development, organisational context and leadership are referenced in the document, but there is still no strong case that NAAS is necessary or sufficient to bring about widespread improvement, or that it deserves so much weight in financial investment and policy.  What is the evidence base for success particularly compared to the experience of other UK nations who operate differently?

Good employers that overcome these organisational issues are achieving very promising outcomes for children, good Ofsted ratings and are ambitious for even more. It is unclear to us that the main children’s social care employers believe NAAS is the best or only way to invest in social work and ensure improvements.

‘Confidence in Practice’ recognises that the NAAS model depends on employers’ comprehensively supporting social workers to prepare for assessment.  But we believe there is not enough recognition of existing effective workforce development schemes, such as social work academies, and the role of the Universities.

The report also raises more questions than it answers about the relationship between attaining NAAS, career progression, performance and future registration. While we appreciate this will largely be a matter for individual employers, the uncertainty is inevitably a worry for social workers in a sector already rife with uncertainty.  We look forward to hearing the employers organisations’ responses to this.

Finally, if there is value in in testing specific knowledge and skills, we remain curious that NAAS has no framework for refresher or ongoing professional development of practice.  A comparison may be made with the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) role. This has a process of re-approval through presentation of evidence every five years and annual refresher training which is defined in legislation. This provides good governance and assurance of ongoing learning.  It is hard to understand how NAAS will be able to provide the wished-for assurance of ongoing capability after testing without a similar framework of required ongoing learning and re-approval. 

In conclusion, BASW is committed to working with all stakeholders and authorities to develop a post-qualifying framework for social work that draws on best practice in learning and development theory and practice, and which is embedded in professional motivation and ownership.  We appreciate NAAS is intending to address a specific ‘gap’ in specialism, but we believe we need to reassert and promote the importance of a whole-profession framework with which specialised attainment programmes need to sit. This is the PCF for England and we look forward to promoting the next iteration of this in the new year.

Although there are significant areas of difference on this area of social work reform, BASW remains committed as the professional body for social work across the UK to working constructively with governments on our many areas of mutual concern and ambition.  We have an on-going relationship with the Ministers of State and the Chief Social Workers in England. The BASW England Committee recently welcomed a representative from the DfE Social Work Reform Unit.  We were also very pleased that the Minister for children’s social care attended the recent social work awards ceremony. We will continue to come together in our joint commitment to excellent social work practice that makes a real difference to the lives of children and families.

Andy Gill (BASW England Chair), Angie Bartoli (BASW England Vice-Chair) and Ruth Allen (CEO, BASW). 






Free training to Return to Social Work Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media If you’re a qualified social worker and you’ve been out of social work for less than five years you may be eligible for free training to return to practice via the Return to Social Work programme.

Getting back into social work after a period away can be tough but with the right support, you can regain the confidence, experience and knowledge you need to get back to making a difference to people who need it most.

The Return to Social Work programme is a free training programme which enables former social workers to re-register and return to practice. If you are based in or near London, the West Midlands or the East of England you may be eligible for a free place on the programme, where you will complete 12 weeks of high quality training to update your knowledge in order to renew your registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Return to Social Work provides hands-on work placements, specialist training, comprehensive coaching and mentoring, including dedicated interview preparation once you’re registered and ready to re-enter social work – all completely free. You’ll gain the skills to ensure you’re at the forefront of social work knowledge, and the expertise to excel in an interview and secure a role that you really want.

Social work is a challenge, but social workers who are returning are benefitting from practical changes that better support them, such as opportunities for personal development training, more manageable caseloads and flexible working.

Visit for more information and to apply. You can apply from your mobile device and the application will take you less than 20 minutes to complete.

If you’ve got questions email and we will do our best to help.

Deadline for applications is midnight 15 January 2018.

Recruitment underway for new regulator leaders. Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media A new regulator, responsible for driving forward improvements in social work practice, will be set up in Sheffield and recruitment is now underway for new regulator leaders.

Social Work England, established through the Children and Social Work Act 2017, will be responsible for regulating all social workers in England. The government is currently recruiting for a Chair and Chief Executive Officer to oversee its set-up and drive forward the development of the new organisation.

The new regulator will prioritise public protection and support social work practice improvement – from initial education and training, to continued professional development – and is a key part of the government’s ambition to make sure vulnerable children and families and adults receive the best support. Social Work England will be based Sheffield, providing a jobs boost for the area.

Ruth Allen, British Association of Social Workers CEO, said: “These important roles will shape the next chapter in the development of social work in England.  We hope applicants with social work and social care experience and the requisite skills will apply. The successful applicants will need to ensure public confidence and high standards. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the development of the regulator, ensuring social workers' views and concerns shape the future.”

Robert Goodwill, Minister for Children and Families, said: “Excellent social workers transform lives, and this is a key part of our ambitious reform agenda to raise standards across the country and create a world-leading profession. Social Work England will play a pivotal role in this work driving forward improvements including ensuring new social workers have access to high-quality initial training and professional development throughout their careers.”

Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, said: “This is a really important step in ensuring that our profession has a regulator that focuses on practice excellence. I look forward to working with Social Work England’s leadership to make this a reality.”

The advertisements for Social Work England Chair and CEO are available here and here.

BASW UK’s Position Statement on Exiting the European Union Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media The process of exiting the European Union is proving to be a complicated and ever-evolving one.

The BASW UK position reflects on how Brexit will affect the social work profession and what must be prioritised as part of the ongoing negotiations. It has been developed in consultation with BASW country managers in all four nations. We welcome feedback and comments.

  • EU Nationals in social work need full reassurance of their leave to remain and to work in the UK.
  • An increase in social workers recruited from within the UK will be needed if Brexit uncertainty results in EU nationals, who are social workers, leaving the country.
  • The portability of Social Work Qualifications must be guaranteed as part of a deal – both for UK qualified social workers seeking to work in the EU and vice versa.
  • The rights conferred on UK workers by EU legislation must be brought into UK law.
  • The UK’s exit from the EU must not result in an erosion of human rights currently secured by EU legislation.
  • BASW’s engagement with international social work organisations and policy will not be affected and must increase post Brexit.


BASW UK is the country’s largest professional association for social workers with over 21,000 members and offices in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. BASW UK exists to promote the best possible social work services for all people who may need them, whilst also supporting social workers themselves. This is achieved through committing to a code of ethics, undertaking policy work, working with government and engaging with partners especially in the health and social care sectors. At the time of writing BASW has been invited to be a member of the Cavendish Coalition a group of health and social care organisations which acts as a shared voice to influence and lobby on post-EU referendum matters. It also seeks to provide those leading the negotiations with expertise and knowledge on the issues affecting the health and social care workforce.

It is with the success of the negotiations and the well-being of both service users and social workers in mind that BASW UK feels it is necessary to make clear its priorities for a clear arrangement with the European Union post Brexit. Some of these priorities are UK-wide, others will apply specifically to one of the four nations of the UK.

The UK-wide position.

On 23rd June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union, although Scotland and Northern Ireland both had a majority vote for remain. The vote in favour of exit, followed by the triggering of Article 50 and the beginning of negotiations has created an environment of uncertainty as to the funding and provision  of social work in the UK. Following 8 years of austerity, and with a projected £2.9 billion annual funding gap in social care alone in England and Wales by the end of the decade, this new period of uncertainty is far from welcome.

Social workers as well as service users require urgent reassurance that current levels of service will be maintained as a minimum during the negotiation process and after Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The position of nationals of EU member states

There is a significant number of EU nationals currently employed as social workers, especially in England. If the Government intends to end the free movement of people then plans must be put in place to make sure there is not a shortfall in the overall number of social workers. Crucially EU nationals and their employers need to know how long any transition period post Brexit will be. Workforce planning is a vital part of sustainable social work services but it cannot be effectively carried in an environment of such uncertainty.

A sustainable workforce

If the departure of significant numbers of social workers who are EU nationals is expected then the Government must be prepared to proactively work with BASW, universities and employers to start training the social workers required to step into the breach. Uncertainty about funding for social work students (the social work bursary) will have deterred some UK citizens from training as social workers. Key incentives to train, such as social work bursaries must be maintained and possibly increased if the profession is to attract enough students.

Portability and Equivalence

Portability of social work qualifications between nations should be maintained, meaning that UK qualified and registered social workers can continue to practice in nations of the European Union. If a workforce quota system is introduced portability of qualifications would ensure that EU Nationals could continue to practice in social work in the UK.  

Workers' Rights

Currently the EU guarantees a range of workers' rights.  For example, the European Working Time Directive is a piece of EU legislation which affects the number of hours an employee can work before taking a break and how many hours can be worked in a week. This is a crucial protection for social workers who are overloaded as it is. Post-Brexit these protections needs to be enshrined in UK law.  

Human Rights

Human rights are at the core of the social work profession. EU Human Rights legislation currently plays a vital role in shaping the rights-based approach to social work in the UK. Service users and social workers with disabilities or from ethnic minority backgrounds, for example, must be able to live and work with confidence that they are protected by UK law, at least to the same degree that they currently benefit from as EU citizens.


Social work is an international profession. Many of the structures and processes of the EU facilitated the process of the exchange of knowledge and good practice. As Brexit approaches, and post-Brexit, BASW will work with a range of agencies and partners to develop and strengthen links with social work practitioners and agencies in the EU nations and beyond.

This position statement now turns to the specific circumstances of each country that have devolved powers.


Wales has some of the poorest regions in the European Union, which is why it receives specific EU funds. Poverty remains a persistent challenge; blighting the life of its citizens as more people experience in-work poverty that is further perpetuated by a zero hours contract landscape. EU funding contributes significantly to the promotion of wellbeing for the citizens in Wales and withdrawal of this funding is likely to push up demand for social work services. The UK Government must take this into consideration post Brexit.  

It is not clear at this stage, whether and how the UK Government plans to make up for the loss of EU funding in Wales.

European funding supports early intervention services, such as Flying Start and Families First. The Welsh First Minister has pledged to try to ensure every penny currently funding those projects is maintained, but there remains uncertainty.

Northern Ireland

The majority of adults in Northern Ireland voted to remain. Unlike in England, very few social workers in Northern Ireland are from overseas so changes to the immigration regime is unlikely to impact workforce supply in the region. The status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is a grave matter of concern for all communities in Northern Ireland, communities of which social workers are a part. There are further concerns for social workers who live on one side and work on the other.  Northern Ireland experiences some of the highest level of deprivation across the UK with an estimated 43% of children in West Belfast growing up in poverty. Mental Health needs are significantly higher - 25% greater than any other part of the UK - a legacy of the armed conflict.

Northern Ireland, because of the very specific circumstances in that country, is in receipt of EU funds that support community services and reconstruction/ reconciliation projects. These services are an important part of the social work offer. It is not clear at this stage how the UK Government will plug any funding gap once EU funding is withdrawn or how funding will be apportioned.


Scotland voted to remain in the EU. There is a strong sense among many that excluding the Scottish Parliament from meaningful deliberation in the aftermath of the EU referendum is neither just nor practicable. More specifically, limiting the free movement of people will have negative consequences for service provision in Scotland since EU nationals represent a significant portion of the social work workforce and indeed that of wider social services, including third sector organisations. There will be a strong negative effect on social work services if the pressures on the NHS increases because of further funding cuts and the loss of migrant workers.

Scotland is a significant beneficiary of EU funds. It is not clear at this stage how the UK Government will plug any funding gap once EU funding is withdrawn, or how funding will be apportioned. The UK government must announce its funding intentions as a matter of urgency.


Like Wales the majority of voters in England elected to leave the European Union, unlike Wales England receives relatively little EU funding with the exception of regions including Cornwall and the North East. If EU funding is lost, those regions are likely to experience a loss of services as well as increased demand. The Government must ensure that these regions in particualr are protected from such a scenario. 

Social workers in England are more likely to come from other EU countries than their peers in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, so measures to plug the gap in the workforce left by any departing EU citizens must be put in place immediately. Measures should include renewed commitment to social worker bursaries as well as guaranteeing the portability of social work degrees.

Next Steps

BASW will seek answers to some of the more pressing questions surrounding the impact of Brexit on the social work profession as well as on those who use social work services. BASW will ensure that the concerns of its members reach decision makers within the UK Government.

Matters of equivalence and portability will affect European social workers just as much as their British counterparts, there is a clear case for joint efforts to be made with the IFSW to push for a mutually beneficial solution to this problem.

The UK Government must ensure that funding for social work services in all four nations is at the very least maintained at its current levels. To that end, BASW will be seeking to establish funding plans with the relevant government ministers.

BASW will seek to ensure that all of its members can plan their careers and conduct their work in an atmosphere of stability and asks the Government to adjust its approach to negotiations accordingly.


Government response to the National Assessment and Accreditation System consultation (NAAS) is launched Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media We are pleased that the Department for Education has now published the consultation response to National Assessment and Accreditation Scheme (NAAS). This is an important part of the current social work policy and reform landscape which is likely to impact many social workers in children’s services.

We are pleased to see within the report the commitment from Isabelle Trowler, the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, to working with BASW to align the Knowledge and Skills Statement, which underpins NAAS, and the Professional Capabilities Framework, and recognition of our ongoing work in developing post-qualifying capabilities, knowledge and development pathways in a variety of areas of specialism, most recently social work with older people.

We will be fully reviewing the Department for Education document and publishing a response shortly.   

The full Government consultation response can be viewed here

Improving mental health support for our children and young people - Expert Working Group final report Mon, 04 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 BASW media