Social workers say no to national assessment scheme

Union’s local government conference hears call to boycott government’s controversial new scheme

Speakers at the local government conference today called for a boycott of the government’s controversial plan to introduce an accreditation system for children and family social workers.

Malcolm Jarvis of Salford moved a motion to Say no to National Assessment and Accreditation, telling delegates that the work done by social workers in children’s services is “absolutely crucial to the welfare of children and families”.

Yet, at a time when children’s services are experiencing a funding shortfall of £600m, the government is giving £23m to private companies – including private construction company Mott MacDonald – to devise, carry out and oversee tests.

Delegate after delegate spoke out against the assessments, which they said would add to the pressures faced by social workers without bringing any benefits.

Jane Beckman from Sefton said she was “appalled and dismayed” by the government’s treatment of social workers, saying the real culprit for failures in the children and family system is “the government’s total lack of funding for children’s services”.

The reason given by the government for introducing the assessments, said Dina Leach from Brighton and Hove, was because of the failure of authorities to act in the Rochdale and Rotherham child abuse scandals.

However, Ms Leach said, in reality it was social workers who tried to bring the abuse to the attention of the police.

“Is the government taking this approach because social workers work with the poor and give them a voice?” she asked, adding, to loud applause: “Yes, because they would like to take away that voice.”