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Social workers oppose ‘power to innovate’ clauses in the Children and Social Work Bill

Local authorities should not be permitted to opt out of some of their statutory duties, a poll of BASW members has revealed. The survey carried out by the Association on what social workers thought about the government’s Children and Social Work Bill found that members were opposed to the ‘power to innovate’ clauses in the bill.

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The survey carried out by the Association on what social workers thought about the government’s Children and Social Work Bill found that members were opposed to the ‘power to innovate’ clauses in the bill.

“Over three quarters of social workers believe local authorities should not be permitted to opt out of some of their statutory duties to children and families in the name of ‘innovation’. Just 16 per cent agreed with the Department for Education’s proposals for selective relief from meeting certain statutory provisions for children - which would be decided by the DfE, undermining the decades old cross-party parliamentary consensus on universal children’s rights legislation,” said the Association.

Nine out of 10 British Association of Social Workers members in England said social work regulation should remain independent of government.

When asked if the regulation of social work should remain independent from government, 87% of members agreed that it should remain independent, 9% disagreed and four per cent were unsure.

Almost three quarters of respondents supported a bespoke regulator for the profession, while one quarter wanted the regulation of social workers to remain with the current regulator, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

In additional commentary, members revealed a range of major concerns about independence, long term affordability, governance and undermining of sustainable, profession-led Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and the development of standards. The lack of prior consultation on the bill by government was also felt to be a real and problematic issue.

‘Cuts’, ‘funding’, ‘money’ and ‘resources’ came up in 38 per cent of responses from social workers.

BASW Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen said: “The survey shows very starkly that the majority of social workers see key proposals in the bill as unwelcome impositions. They want professional respect. A regulator independent of undue government interference is essential. The bill was brought forward without prior consultation and subsequent related consultation efforts and amendments to the bill have been rushed and released at unfortunate times of the year - such as Christmas or during August when people are often away from work.

“The profession cannot and will not accept a lip service approach to engagement that keeps the majority of the profession marginalised and silenced. This cannot be productive. Imposing reform on the profession without proactive discussion and due legislative process cannot lead to successful, progressive and sustainable change. BASW will continue to push for positive, inclusive developments and we will stay ahead in this political environment so our members are not disenfranchised.”

 

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