Today’s news review responds to the Education Select Committee’s report on social work reform.
Social work reform
The Education Select Committee has today, 13 July, published a report claiming that our proposals to reform social work have significant weaknesses. The report’s publication coincides with the Committee stage of our Children and Social Work Bill.
We agree with the Education Select Committee that work is needed to improve its quality – but they fail to acknowledge the significant investment and reforms we are making in order to do this.
We are clear that social work is one of our most important public services and has the ability to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We are already spending £700 million in training and recruitment and have committed a further £200 million for projects designed to increase the quality of the profession.
The Children and Social Work Bill will mean that the profession is overseen by a third party regulator, as well as the Secretary of State. Our reforms to regulation are about enabling the profession to achieve their ambitions for the people they serve. The new regulator will initially be established as an executive agency jointly supported by both the Department of Health and Department for Education and this will be reviewed after three years.
We are firmly committed to maintaining a single social work profession, to drive the highest standards for both adults and children. We have already appointed two Chief Social Workers in recognition of the different contexts of children’s and adult social care in which they operate. They each have specialist skills and knowledge of the unique challenges of their respective areas.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We agree with the Education Select Committee, both that social work is one of our most important public services and that work is needed to improve its quality. Excellent social work transforms lives – that’s why the government has invested over £700 million in training and recruitment, why we have committed a further £200m to innovation projects intended to increase the quality of social care practice and why we intend to accredit every children and family social worker in the country to a high standard.
We know from experience that any new professional body needs the support of the workforce. Despite investing over £8m of public money, the College of Social Work could not get the membership it needed to succeed. The proposal to set up a specialist regulator will be developed in conjunction with the profession, and responds to the need to raise standards.
Minister Edward Timpson has responded recently to criticism of the Bill in a letter which was published in the Guardian and in full here.