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BASW calls for government to help reinvigorate social work services

Social worker workloads remain unmanageably high in many areas, BASW has warned.

In the run up to the general election, BASW has called on the new government to work hard to better support the social work profession.

“Too many social workers continue to report having insufficient time to help people face to face to find lasting solutions to complex problems – and spending too much time on bureaucracy,” says BASW in a general election manifesto which outlines eight priorities from the professional association.

BASW says good quality supervision, continuing professional development and accessible professional leadership must be available to ensure practitioners can cope with complex cases, saying it is “essential for a professional culture of continuous learning and improvement”.

The association urges a new government to work closely with the profession and BASW to reinvigorate its ambition for stronger and more effective services and to ensure national policy improves the working context for social workers across the UK.

The manifesto highlights how children and families policy in the UK has tipped too far towards removal of children at points of crisis, as seen with the steep rise in children coming into care, with an 18% increase in the number of looked after children in the UK between 2004 and 2016. Early preventative support has been reduced.

Social workers should be empowered to use their skills to tackle disadvantages, prevent family separation and provide skilled family interventions to get better outcomes for children and adults, says the manifesto.

“We also believe that the democratic accountability of local government when the state intervenes in the lives of adults and children is crucial to good governance. Local commissioning and provision must ensure coherent, understandable, accountable services are accessible for our most vulnerable children,” it adds.

BASW also outlines how mental health is a major challenge of our time and in the context of social workers constituting the overwhelming majority of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) in England and Wales, Mental Health Officers in Scotland and Approved Social Workers in Northern Ireland, it urges social work in mental health to be properly resourced.

Any new legislation should consider the central role social work plays within the multidisciplinary workforce by resourcing it properly and making local authorities accountable to the relevant inspectorates, such as Care Quality Commission in England, for the maintenance of a sufficient AMHP/MHO/ASW workforce.

BASW also calls for a new government to:

  • End austerity policies that cause harm to children, adults and families with care and support needs
  • Commit to continued adequate funding for university education for qualifying social workers, ensuring the numbers of new entrants meets future workforce demand in all fields of practice
  • Ensure a realistic and sustainable settlement for adult social care across all countries of the UK
  • Ensure parity between unaccompanied asylum seeking children and other young people in care
  • Recognise BASW as the professional body for social work and social workers, and work with us to improve the standing of the profession.

BASW Chair Guy Shennan and CEO Ruth Allen: “BASW has produced a manifesto of what we want from a new government following the 2017 election. Fulfilling our manifesto will improve the lives of people using services and the contexts in which social workers work. As a citizen, you are free to raise your concerns throughout the election. We encourage you to use the BASW manifesto to ask – on the doorstep, at hustings, through social media or newspapers etc. - what candidates and parties will do about social workers’ and service users’ concerns. Take this opportunity to promote social work values and advocate for the wellbeing of all and particularly those in need of care or support or whose rights are at risk. This is part of being a social worker!”

Manifesto available here

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