Compensation claims are part of a wider malaise

Responding to the revelation that local authorities are facing rising numbers of law suits from people abused as children seeking compensation for failing to protect them, BASW – The College of Social Work(BASW/CoSW) has said the cases illustrate the difficult decisions social workers have to make, with often limited support from employers.

The response followed widespread reports that hundreds of young people are trying to sue local authorities in England and Wales for failing to remove them from abusive homes.

In a statement, BASW/CoSW said it backed the right of people who feel aggrieved by decisions made by social workers to seek redress from local authorities but urged greater recognition of the difficult situations social workers face on a daily basis.

‘Even in the best circumstances possible it is inevitable that an inability to gather every possible piece of evidence and to forsee future events will mean that social workers do not always get it right or that things do not turn out as well as had been hoped.’

BASW/CoSW chief executive Hilton Dawson featured on Radio 4’s Today programme on the subject, where he highlighted the conditions in which social workers are forced to operate, attacking an “overweening bureaucracy, overwhelming caseloads, poor support from management, the lack of a career structure to keep the best most experienced professionals in frontline work, and inadequate training and professional development.

“Hopefully these compensation claims will help to persuade governments and local government to give social work and the people who need social work services the priority they need. Not only to serve people well but to ensure that the potential future financial burden is reduced.”