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BASW: Government needs to stop criticising social workers

BASW is calling for an end to the “unsubstantiated criticism of social workers” following the Queen’s Speech.

Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said the government’s criticism of the social work profession can have a damaging effect on the workforce.

“The profession needs to have a serious discussion about reform and we want to see a change in approach from the Government. We want to see an end to unsubstantiated criticism of social workers and their professionalism in the media which harms morale and ultimately harms services,” said Dr Allen.

The Association’s new chief executive said for the government to create the ‘cultural change’ it is seeking, it has to reach out to the social work profession as any reforms should be driven by social worker knowledge and skills.

“The further development of social work and public confidence in social workers can only be achieved through the profession shaping change and leading on its own excellent practice. No profession can be created by government; it must be owned and developed from evidence, ethics and the reality of day to day practice,” added Dr Allen.

There are already excellent social workers in the profession whose views should be taken on board, the Association warned in its response to the Queen’s Speech which outlined plans for new social work legislation. The junior doctors dispute should, Dr Allen argued, be used an example of both the need to involve professionals in the management of change and also of potential impact to both services and people if communication breaks down.

While there is currently a lot of discussion in social care about ‘co-production’ as a key concept in the development of public services, when services work together with people who use services and carers to harness the expertise of all, a similar approach should be adopted between Government and professionals such as social workers.

BASW has called for the profession to take a leading role in shaping change. BASW is asking all social workers, members and non-members, to share their views on reform with the Association. These views will inform representations to government and the development of the Association’s own proposals for continuing professional development and improvements across the sector.

To share your views on social work reform, email

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