The Parliament at Westminster is responsible for UK-wide legislation and policy which has a direct effect on social work practice across the UK; areas include Austerity policies, Universal Credit, and Asylum and Immigration. Westminster is also responsible for social work specific legislation and policy in England (social work legislation and policy is devolved for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales).
BASW seeks to influence the government, political parties and politicians in the interests of social work and social workers.
BASW seeks to achieve this goal through six main routes:
- The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work
- The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care
- Select committees
- The legislative process
- Meetings with ministers and shadow ministers
- Informing political parties
- Meetings with individual MPs
BASW has a full-time Public and Political Affairs Officer based in Westminster. You can contact Madeleine Jennings here.
The APPG is chaired by Alex Cunningham MP. Former chairs include Shadow Children’s Minister Emma Lewell-Buck MP and officers are drawn from across all parties.
Meetings of the APPG are held every two months with more frequent meetings on a case-by-case basis. All APPG meetings are open to the public (and thus all BASW members) and are held in Westminster. Please let Madeleine know if you wish to come: space can be limited and room notifications change at short notice. Allow time to clear security if you plan to attend.
The APPG on Social Work has published a report following its latest inquiry: Social Workers & A New Mental Health Act.
Aim: Preserving the role of the social worker within mental health services and improving their working conditions under a new Mental Health Act
Social workers play a pivotal part in both children and adult’s mental health services. This inquiry looked into the different roles social workers hold within the system and how a new mental health act should develop and protect those roles. The report and recommendations were submitted to the Department of Health and Social Care to inform their work on the new legislation and upcoming White Paper. The recommendations focused on the role of the social worker day-to-day, the mechanics of their work and the challenges they face.
Three evidence hearings were held in Parliament and written evidence was received from Local Authorities and social workers from across England.
This Autumn BASW will be holding fringe events to present the APPG’s recommendations at the party political conferences. If you are a member of a political party and would like information on the relevant events, please get in touch.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Care
The APPG on Social Care just formed and launched an inquiry into the professionalisation of the social care workforce. BASW's Policy, Ethics and Human Rights (PEHR) Committee commissioned our Public and Political Affairs Officer Madeleine Jennings to put together a position statement to submit to the inquiry.
The APPG on Adult Social Care is has recently launched a comprehensive report on the future of Adult Social Care which can be found here: https://adultsocialcareappg.com/
Select Committees, made-up of backbench MPs, scrutinise Government legislation and its impact, the key ones for BASW are the Education, Health, Housing Communities & Local Government and Public Accounts Committees. Members of these committees can issue a call for evidence, question experts, debate an issue and produce a report. Where relevant BASW submits evidence and takes part in Select Committee hearings.
Currently BASW is preparing its response to the Education Select Committee’s inquiry on the Children’s Social Care Workforce. Individual submissions can be made on the parliament website.
Or you can write to Madeleine to have your thoughts included in BASW’s official submission.
Recent BASW submissions:
- Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee: Local Government Finance and the 2019 Spending Review inquiry.
The Legislative Process
BASW scrutinises all relevant legislation as it goes through parliament and seeks to influence relevant legislation.
Current legislative issues:
- July 2018 – August 2019: Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act.
- BASW members are involved in work on the Code of Practise via the Adult and Mental Health PPEGs. Get involved here: https://www.basw.co.uk/what-we-do/groups-and-networks/practice-policy-and-education-groups-ppegs
- June 2018: The Social Workers Regulations 2018. View BASW briefing.
- 1st May 2018: Domestic Abuse Bill. View BASW's response.
- 14th March 2018: Westminster Hall Debate – Foster Care. BASW submission coming soon.
- 13th March 2018: Westminster Hall Debate – The Contribution to Society of Social Workers. View the BASW submission.
- 1st March 2018: Green Paper on Transforming Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service. View BASW's response.
Meeting with Ministers and Shadow Ministers
BASW regularly meets with relevant Government Ministers and with Shadow Ministers to inform, to promote dialogue and to argue a case. Meetings with Government Ministers are often difficult to secure so these are opportunities that must be used for maximum effect.
Read Ruth Allen’s letters to the new Prime Minister, Education and Health ministers here.
Informing Political Parties
An effective mechanism for influencing MPs and political parties is through the annual party-political conferences. In 2019 BASW is hosting panel discussions at the Labour and Liberal-Democrat conferences, focusing on social approaches to mental health and the recommendations of the APPG’s recent inquiry. Decisions on events are based on which interventions are likely to be most effective, partnerships and cost.
Meetings with individual MPs.
A great deal of work-related activity at Parliament (like in any workplace) is carried out informally, which is why BASW has the Public and Political Affairs Officer based in Westminster. This results in frequent conversations with individual MPs. Constituency matters (i.e. issues that relate solely to the Parliamentary constituency of the MP) are best handled by BASW members meeting directly with their MP in Parliament or in the constituency. If you would like a meeting with your MP about a social work issue Madeleine can advise on how to make your case.
Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers
BASW is a member of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, a coalition of forty charities and associations who work together to campaign on issues that are specific to children in care and care leavers. Madeleine, BASW’s Public & Political Affairs Officer is currently the co-chair of the Alliance which meets on a quarterly basis.