Notes of Labour Social Work Group Members’ Meeting held 7 November 3-4pm in Room 2 Westminster Hall, followed by a discussion meeting in House of Commons Committee Room 5
- June Thoburn welcomed the 25 members present, and noted that in addition 8 other members who could not make this meeting (because of change to earlier time) will be at the discussion meeting to follow. Apologies for absence had been received from 15 members, including LSWG Patron Baroness Hilary Armstrong, Vice Chair Bill Esterson and Hon Secretary Sam Earl. She noted that attenders/ those sending apologies for absence were from across England and N Ireland.
- She thanked Emma Lewell-Buck MP and her recently appointed researcher Abbie Sparrow for sponsoring and arranging rooms for the two meetings and explained that Emma was unable to attend as sponsor as she has sustained a serious wrist injury and had an operation the next day. Those present sent their best wishes to her for a full and speedy recovery.
- Chair’s report
– June reported that there are now just over 200 names on the mailing
list, 170 of whom are members and the others ‘supporters’ (mainly people whose job descriptions mean that they do not wish to be associated with a political party). 40 of those on the list are Parliamentarians, and there has been contact with 20 of these over the past 18 months (including providing briefings for debates and parliamentary committees).
– Website- 563 Views 268 visits
– Twitter 814 Followers Following 573 (especial thanks to regular tweeters and Jane Tunstill, Rob Murphy, Helen Wood, Steph Gee and tweeter ‘Ermintrude’ who have contributed to website). More contributions to website would be very welcome.
– Since the last national meeting 20 months ago members of the LSWG have:
- Submitted evidence to the Labour Policy Forum (on website)
- Prepared and sent to relevant Shadow ministers comments on the Draft Labour Manifesto for 2017 General Election. This had a part to play in Labour’s specific support for Frontline in 2015 Manifesto being dropped and replaced by a statement that a Labour Government will support adequate funding for all routes into social work. However, contrary to views expressed by most social workers (and passed on by Chair to a Labour consultation meeting on this) Labour’s support for Mandatory Reporting of child abuse remained in the Manifesto.
- Members have met with UNISON Labour Link, especially re UNISON’s policy to oppose the introduction of NAAS (National Assessment and Accreditation System).
- LSWG and members as individuals worked (successfully) with Article 39 and others to provide briefings to parliamentarians to ensure that the parts of the Education and Social Work Bill that would have diminished children’s rights were dropped.
- Provided briefings on regulation of social work and social work education for Labour Parliamentarians (especially Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Lord Watson, Lord Hunt, Baroness Pitkeathley who led for Labour in Lords and Commons) on Children and Social Work Bill- especially urging successfully for the Social Work England not to be directly under Government control.
- Suggested PQs for parliamentarians on a range of social work and social services issues and responded to specific questions.
- Contacts made with several of the newer intakes of Labour MPs. At least 2 have backgrounds in social work. Information about the group has been sent recently to 6 MPs known to have spoken on social work related issues.
- On the disappointing side, these activities (apart from Social Work Regulation) have centred on child and family social work and services. One problem has been that with all the changes in the Shadow Cabinet, it has been difficult to establish links. Meetings with Luciana Berger re mental health and correspondence with Sarah Champion were helpful but these no longer have a Shadow Cabinet role. Efforts continue to make contact with Health Shadows but (apart from with Lord Hunt over social work regulation) these have not been successful to date. However the Social Care Shadow, Barbara Keeley sent her apologies for not being able to make the discussion meeting and links have been established with her Office. A meeting is planned with Yvonne Fovargue MP (in the Labour shadow DCLG team) who sent her apologies for the discussion meeting to discuss issues around local government duties with respect to social care services across needs groups.
Hon Treasurer’s Report
- Jackie Mitchell reported that a Bank Account has now been set up with Coop Bank and, after payment of the web-site name registration there is just under £100 in the account. There was a discussion as to whether the LSWG should have a more formal approach to membership, signalled by a membership fee rather than a request for donations. Jackie Mitchell, Pan Trevithick, Jo Warner and June Thoburn agreed to be in touch to see how this could be achieved in as inclusive way as possible and report back to members. There was some discussion about how any income could be used, in addition to the website. Suggestions included assistance to those with limited income to attend meetings and having a presence at next Labour Conference and/or Labour Local Government Conference (For the moment, donations (cheques) of £5-£10 welcome (to Jackie Mitchell 3 Victoria St, Norwich NR13QX.
Appointment of Honorary Officers
- All four Hon Officers are willing to serve for another year and this was unanimously agreed by members
- Pam Trvithick agreed to be Membership Secretary and this offer was warmly accepted
- In order to maximise wider awareness of LSWG, it was agreed to expand the number of patrons. The contribution of Baroness Armstrong in providing a valuable link with the House of Lords is much appreciated, and it would be good to build on this. It was agreed members would communicate suggested names to the Chair – including but not necessarily parliamentarians.
There was a lively discussion with positive suggestions and offers of help on
– Labour’s policy for social work and social care services, whilst in opposition and to be included in a Manifesto for government
- How best to improve the viability, membership and impact of the group.
Key areas for the group to work on were
– opposition nationally and locally to outsourcing of social work services – including supporting members whose areas are having these ‘new models’ of service provision forced on them. As noted above, links have already been made with a Shadow cabinet member of the DCLG team. JT will get a date and then see which members can make that date.
- Importance of covering the whole area of social work practice- including mental health, the elderly and working age adults/ disability as well as continuing to work on child and family issues.
- With others, keep a close eye on how the new registrar Social Work England is set up and proposals for registration of social workers and accreditation of social work education. Try to ensure that social workers are members of the Social Work England Board and involved in appointment of key staff.
- Re ways of improving the impact of the LSWG, following this meeting it may be possible to identify members working in particular areas (South West, West Midlands, North West, North East, East Anglia are possibilities) to engage local labour MPs and Councillors and perhaps join with other groups (eg BASW, SWAN, UNISON) and provide briefings on local issues.
The lively discussion was curtailed by need to move on to Discussion Meeting.