£60 million to attract new social workers following Baby P scandal

£60 million will be spent trying to lure “the best and brightest” graduates professionals into social work following the Baby P scandal.
Admitting that the quality of people in social work must improve, ministers established a “Social Work Transformation Fund” to raise standards in the profession.

The fund is part of an “action plan” to improve social care follows the independent review carried out by Lord Laming, which criticised every part of the system for protecting vulnerable children.

10-month-old Baby P was beaten to death at home in 2007 despite being well-known to social services in Haringey, north London. Baby P’s “stepfather” was last week convicted of raping a two-year-old girl who, like Baby P, on Haringey council’s at risk register.

Lord Laming earlier this year said ministers, council chiefs, social work managers, NHS staff and police officers all need to do more to safeguard vulnerable children.

He also identified weaknesses in the quality of social workers, and found that many experienced social workers are leaving the profession in despair at growing bureaucracy and poor management.

In response, Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, said that ministers will spend £58 million trying to improve the standing of the profession, to attract a better standard of recuit and to retain experienced social workers in their jobs.

A target has been set for 500 former social workers to be lured back to the profession.

Ministers are sponsoring 200 university places from September, so that “the brightest and highest achieving graduates” can take conversion courses to qualify as social workers.

Mr Balls also said public perceptions of social workers should change, and the profession’s successes should be “celebrated” more often.

Despite a suggestion in Lord Laming’s report that social workers should be paid more, Mr Balls signalled there are no plans to increase salaries in the profession.

Lord Laming also said in his report that other professionals like doctors must take a more active role in detecting and preventing child abuse.

The British Medical Association responded yesterday by publishing new guidelines for doctors, telling them that if they suspect a child patient of being at risk of abuse, they should detain the child in hospital until social services have been consulted.