BASW : ‘CWDC spending axe regrettable but right’

BASW has described the Department for Education’s decision to axe funding for the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) as ‘regrettable’ but ‘the right thing to do’ if it helps safeguard frontline jobs.

The Association responded to the news by urging the Westminster government to divert funding to struggling frontline services.

The Department for Education confirmed to the CWDC this week that it is to end its £150 million support for the skills body and bring its functions in-house. CWDC spends around £70 million a year on social work training.

Commenting on the development, BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson said: “What the education secretary Michael Gove must do, is what BASW keeps asking him to do and ensure that social work gets priority. Successful communities depend on the profession and as vulnerable families, many of whom already live on the poverty line, feel the brunt of the financial cuts, demand for social work support will rise and we must be able to respond to these families and help them.

In a letter to Paul Ennals, chair of the CWDC, Mr Gove said the organisation’s functions will be brought in-house by 2012 to save money as part of the government’s programme to reduce arms length bodies.

‘In this tough spending climate, it is essential we reduce spending at the centre and target our efforts where they are most needed. I do believe the NDPB (non-departmental public body) model is no longer the most efficient and accountable way of meeting our aims,’ Mr Gove wrote.

BASW development manager Bridget Robb described the move as unsurprising but also applauded some of the work the CWDC has undertaken since its establishment in 2005. “CWDC has delivered a lot of social work projects in children’s services, many of which have been groundbreaking and will need to be seen through properly. But the focus now turns to how the implementation work of the Social Work Reform Board and the Munro review will be funded. We hope that the money does not just go into education.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said there would be “significant administrative savings” as a result of the decision to axe funding to the body, which was launched in 2005. It employs 178 people but it is not yet known how many posts will be made redundant.

CWDC is not solely dependent on funding from DfE and while the loss of its NDPB status and education funding will decimate the organisation it hopes to return to its original employer-led sector skills work, though funding for this remains uncertain.

The CWDC has funded a number of workforce development programmes including the Remodelling Social Work pilots, designed to keep experienced workers on the frontline, and Newly Qualified Social Worker pilots.