Government plans £5m cut to social workers’ grant, says BASW

Association expresses ‘deep concern’ at potential reduction of funding for 2012-13

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has said the government plans to impose a 18% cut to the social work education grant in 2012-13.

The grant, which currently stands at £28m, is made available to help employers and universities meet the costs of arranging and managing placements for students who are learning to be social workers, and to help pay for the involvement of service users and carers in the design, delivery and assessment of social workers. The fund is currently administered through the General Social Care Council (GSCC).

BASW said it has been unofficially briefed about the cuts, however the Department for Education said that the budgets for 2012-13 have not yet been set, although it did not confirm or deny that the fund could be slashed in future.

A spokeswoman for the department said: “The budget for the education support grant is £28m in the 2011-12 financial year. Budgets for 2012-13 have not yet been set. However, GSCC has signed contracts for the education support grant for the academic year 2011 at the existing rates.

“For practice placements this is £28, £18 and £2 per student per placement day for non-statutory settings, statutory settings and higher education institutions respectively with higher education institutions also receiving funding for the involvement of service users and careers in the development and delivery of social work courses.”

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, said that full social work support was needed now more than ever for vulnerable children, families and adults who face a tough economic climate.

“[The] Munro [review] outlined important changes needed to improve child protection practice, in particular, yet such funding cuts will have exactly the opposite effect and introduce more risks to practice,” said Dawson.

“It is all the more galling for social work that it looks set to lose £5m in training investment when the model of a college of social work currently being developed is costing taxpayers exactly the same amount of money.”