Huge welcome for Munro report as social workers confirm desperate plight of profession

BASW – The College of Social Work has issued a huge welcome to a report into child protection social work by Professor Eileen Munro, which coincides with a survey finding that 90% of social workers believe lives ‘could be at risk’ as a consequence of current cuts to services.

Proposals for the creation of a Chief Social Worker post within government, a policy BASW/CoSW outlined to the Prime Minister in October last year, and to free practitioners from some of the bureaucratic constraints that have long plagued their work, are extremely positive developments for a profession in real need. This would enable social workers to spend more time working directly with the vulnerable children and families that desperately need their help and adequately supporting their welfare needs.

However, BASW/CoSW warned that Professor Munro’s recommendations need the full support of government and employers and must be implemented as quickly and effectively as possible to ensure that social work can begin immediately to lift itself out of its critical condition. An exclusive survey for BASW/CoSW has revealed that 94% of social workers have experienced cuts to services over the past year, with 93% stating that it is harder to do effective work with vulnerable people today than it was in April 2010.

There are signs that the situation could worsen before it has a chance to improve with 40% of social workers indicating that they are considering leaving the profession. The extent of the challenge for child protection workers is blatant, with a hugely alarming 72% of social workers who work with vulnerable children stating that vacant positions are going unfilled because of the harsh economic climate facing the profession.

Commenting on the day of the Munro report’s publication Nushra Mansuri, Professional Officer for BASW/CoSW, said: “These recommendations are like music to the profession’s ears. BASW/CoSW has long campaigned to relieve social workers of the unbearable bureaucracy and administrative overload that prevents them working directly with people who need their services and it’s a huge relief that this has come at a time when social workers are under extraordinary added pressure from deep funding cuts as local authorities pass on the effects of reduced central government support.

“The appointment of a Chief Social Worker, as BASW/CoSW proposed in our Social Work Bill last year, cannot happen soon enough. This offers the chance to ensure social work – all too often under-appreciated by policymakers – has a voice within the corridors of power, and will make it that much harder for ministers to ignore the ready advice of an on the spot expert.”

Nushra also highlighted the plight of adult social workers, whose work with vulnerable people was not the focus of Professor Munro’s work. She said job losses, under the guise of a more personalised service as qualified social workers are replaced by unqualified care staff, needed similar attention to that the government has given to child protection work by commissioning Professor Munro’s review.

Professor Munro’s positive recommendations for the profession also include:

    * Scrapping a raft of irrelevant targets such as those that tell social workers how long they need to spend filling out forms.
    * A radical change to the career structure of social work to ensure that social workers can remain in frontline practice and take on more senior posts.