Labour Social Work Group Members’ and Supporters’ Newsletter April 2018
Following on from our successful meetings in Westminster in November 2017 this has been a quiet period for the group, although much has been happening with respect to Social Work across the age and needs groups.
- Social Work England Although consultation is continuing on the detailed Regulations for the new regulator, planned to be up and running in 2019 having taken over from HCPC, the Chair of the Board has been appointed. He is Professor Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford a former mental health social worker and academic and now a Labour peer. I have written on behalf of the group to congratulate him and offer any help members of LSWG can give and received a warm reply.
- Discussions about integrating health and care services (mainly concerning physical care for the elderly, and with very little mention of social work and the social aspects of care) rumble on but concrete details are sparse. Members may be aware of more detailed moves with the Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs ) and ICPs (Integrated Care Plans) in their areas. See https://www.england.nhs.uk/systemchange/ If you are aware of any of these that have a real grasp of where social work services might fit, or if you are involved in such plans and able to speak to what arrangements are needed for social work to play its key role, PLEASE get in touch . Meanwhile LGA and ADASS continue to draw attention to the massive funding gap for local authority adult social work and social care services. https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/lga-responds-announcement-multi-year-funding-plan-nhs
- With respect to Child and Family social work, DfE continues to be highly active with inquiries and consultations including – the Narey and Owers ‘foster care stock take’ which received a generally unfavourable reception, failing, amongst other things, to address the shocking facts emerging about the large amount of funding being taken out of local authority children’s services to pay the shareholder profits of the large private sector companies. The Education Select Committee report on foster care was more nuanced but still failed to pin down the key issues around ensuring appropriate financial and other support for foster carers and ensuring there is an adequate number of the different sorts of foster carers to meet the differing neds so that there can be greater opportunities for careful matching.
- The DfE-funded ‘Innovations’ programme continues to disperse funds in a piecemeal way to authorities that can make a case for additional funding for a particular (DfE-approved) approach, whilst starving the majority of local authorities of the essential funds (the latest LGA report is included on the website ) see joint letter to the minister https://www.local.gov.uk/about/campaigns/bright-futures/bright-futures-childrens-services/close-childrens-services-funding
- “Councils are deeply committed to supporting children and young people, but the services that many children and families across the country desperately rely on are at serious risk due to rising demand and unprecedented funding pressures. Simply put, children’s services are at a tipping point. Government has to take immediate action and provide the funding we need to deliver the support our children deserve.” Cllr Richard Watts, Chair, LGA Children and Young People Board
- Researchers under the leadership of Paul Bywaters meanwhile provide incontrovertible evidence of the relationship between child and family poverty, having a child protection plan, and coming into care.
1 Our contacts with Labour MPs and Lords tend to be ‘behind the scenes’ (and most members work with other ‘hats’ on eg BASW, or as Trades Union members) but we have continued to suggest Parliamentary Questions. Amongst these, an interesting answer to a PQ from Emma Lewell-Buck was about the costs of the NAAS (National Accreditation and Assessment Scheme
The government has spent £3.66 million in consulting on and preparing for the introduction of the National Assessment and Accreditation System for children and family social workers.
‘The government has allocated for phase 1 and phase 2 of the National Accreditation and Assessment System: £2.7 million for the preparation of local authorities and social workers; and £4.86 million for the introduction, operational delivery and evaluation of the assessment.
This total is split £2.7 million for local authorities and £8.52 million for private companies’
Among other interesting PQ answers are
‘There are currently two independent trusts established with support from this department: the Doncaster Children’s Service Trust (established in October 2014) and Slough Children’s Services Trust (established in September 2015). The department paid £2.9 million and £3.3 million towards set up costs for Doncaster and Slough respectively.
Sunderland County Council established a community interest company, Together for Children, in April 2017. The department’s contribution to the set up costs for this company was £2.5 million.
‘Achieving for Children’ (AfC) is also a community interest company that was established in 2014 to provide services for Richmond and Kingston. It was established independently from the department and we did not contribute to its set up. AfC receive money through the Partners In Practice programme and has recently expanded into a third local authority (Windsor and Maidenhead).’
- We continue, to date without success, to ask members of the Labour Shadow team across the areas that are relevant to social work (DfE, Health, DCLG/Housing, Home Office, Justice) if we can meet with them as a group to explore relevant social work issues in the round.
- As Chair of LSWG I was invited to attend a meeting at Labour Headquarters of Friends and Member-led groups to discuss our contribution to the Labour Party Democracy Review https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/labour-party-democracy-review-some-background/
It proved a good opportunity to talk with other small member-led and friends groups, and especially to make contact with the coordinator of the Labour Mental Health group. I subsequently responded via the web-site consultation on behalf of the LSWG to the democracy review.
The future – a plea for help and group member involvement
- URGENTLY we need to respond to the Policy Review as individuals and as LSWGThe way this has been set up is profoundly unhelpful for a response on social work issues. Social work and services to those we aim to help could come under 6 of the 8 subject headings, though most directly: protecting: Towards an National Education Service (which is mainly about schools but included ‘early years’; Protection our communities and turning lives around; and giving people the power to shape their local communities
Having read through these I found very few specific paragraphs where is was possible to comment specifically on social work
Please get in touch if you are able to lead on putting together a LSWG response on any of these and PLEASE respond as individuals and let me know if you have so that I can follow up with a supporting comment.
- We did talk at our last meeting about linking up in local groups around local and national issues. We have members in the following regions: London: Norfolk/ Suffolk/ Essex/ Cambs; West midlands; North West; North East. If there are any volunteers to make links across members in these areas, please get in touch and I will pass on the emails of group members in your area.
- Labour Conference 23-26 Sept 2018. Liverpool. Funds don’t stretch to paying conference fees, but if you are going, let me know if you would be willing to give a presence to LSWG. It may be possible for us to join into a Fringe event. Further in the future I think we should definitely plan to have a presence at the Labour Local Government Conference (around Feb 2019 – let me know if you would be interested in helping with this.
- I’ll give it another 18 months Chair but would like to start handing over. Any expressions of interest gratefully received.
FINALLY AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, BECAUSE OF NEW DATA PROTECTION LEGISLATION, WE WILL SHORTLY BE SENDING YOU A FORM TO COMPLETE IF YOU ARE IN AGREEMENT TO HAVING YOUR SETAILS ON A LIST OF MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS TO BE KEPT BY THE LSWG HON SECRETARY.
DO PLEASE FILL IT IN. YOUR MEMBERSHIP IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO THE VIABILITY OF THE GROUP.
With all good wishes to LSWG members as we move towards the local elections