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BASW submission to the Education Select Committee Inquiry on Social Work Reform

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW)  is submitting this evidence on behalf of a membership of nearly 20,000 social workers across the UK, with over 16,000 based in England.

This quote from a member encapsulates the concerns expressed by the majority of members who responded to the consultation: “Perhaps more thought needs to be given to positive ways of learning rather than devising humiliating and disempowering strategies, including the parachuting in of highly paid strangers.”

Member concerns focus on; the proposed direction of travel for the social work profession, a perceived failure to address the impact of the austerity measures, public sector cuts across all services and the reality that many families are spiralling into poverty and crisis.

Early intervention and preventative work has seriously diminished and inevitably the main intervention focus becomes child protection and the removal of children from their families.

This reform agenda only refers to social work with children. The government agenda to split social work into “children” and “adults” work with separate chief social workers working to different government departments has been divisive and at times contradictory. Nor does it encompass all social workers, in particular those working in the justice system. Increasingly it does not reflect service delivery arrangements where local government is merging departments, and other employers have a variety of delivery models. It also does not reflect the professional imperative for all social workers to be able to provide a level of service to people of all ages. 

This agenda driven by perceived failure in England is in sharp contrast to the development in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland that are based on a relationship of respect and partnership.