Crisis in Social Work

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2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
16 February 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the vital role undertaken by social workers across the UK and applauds their continued ability to carry out excellent work in their communities despite the increased amount of pressure they are facing in their jobs. Social workers are having to cope with funding cuts to their services as caseload and referral levels continue to increase thanks to the Westminster Government’s austerity agenda. Conference also recognises that attacks on the profession have continued to increase over the past year.

Conference notes these problematic developments:

1)The closure of the College of Social Work, which was established in 2012 with the aim of raising social work standards and providing a voice for social workers;

2)The imposition of a new and additional assessment and accreditation system for child and family social workers;

3)The naming of social workers in court judgements;

4)The threat of jail for social workers for the crime of ‘wilful neglect’;

5)A dramatic increase in the use of agency staff as councils struggle to retain permanent staff;

6)The Government’s continued efforts to have more social work functions outsourced;

7)Support by the Westminster Government for initiatives such as Frontline, which promote an individualistic approach to social work, at the expense of tackling deep-rooted problems like reducing caseloads for social workers.

Conference believes that there is a crisis in our social work system, caused by developments likes these along with continued austerity. Social workers are continually faced with excessive workloads, reductions in qualified staffing, and cuts in training and professional development.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

a)Develop and promote a social work campaign pack that branches can use to recruit and organise social workers and to help branches and Regions negotiate and campaign for better conditions at work for social workers;

b)Continue to promote the use of UNISON’s Caseload Tool to try and help ensure safe workload levels for social workers;

c)Seek to work with other social work organisations such as the British Association of Social Workers and the Social Work Action Network in order to stand up for the wider social work profession in the face of continued Government attacks;

d)Work with the regions to promote the targeted recruitment of student social workers in universities;

e)Continue to vigorously oppose the privatisation of social work.