MPs told to ‘have confidence in social workers’

Following lobbying from the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), an All Party Parliamentary Social Work Group today held its first meeting, a move aimed at moving social work higher up the political agenda.

At a lunchtime meeting, members including MPs and Peers from all sides, received a message of thanks from former Labour MP Hilton Dawson, now BASW chief executive and general secretary of the newly formed Social Workers Union (SWU).

Mr Dawson also informed the group that social work provides MPs with an opportunity to gain insight into some of the most topical and contentious political issues they face.

Hilton Dawson told the group:

“It is heartening that more than 20 MPs and Peers have already signed up to the group. We were very grateful to the Education Select Committee for their intervention with the College of Social Work, taking seriously our concerns that it must be a truly independent body, accountable only to our profession. Now, we want to make sure that legislators are fully aware of what our profession can do.

“Social Work has the skills to help people achieve change in their lives. Social workers are all too aware of the failings of successive governments, who try to address complex human problems though inefficient and authoritarian bureaucracy.

“Many of society’s most intractable problems are located firmly within the family, the neighbourhood and the community and this is precisely where social work operates so effectively.

“Wise and targeted investment in those with the human skills to help people produce their own solutions can prove to be a more effective use of scarce public resources, than a host of new government initiatives, the medicalisation of social problems or by pinning too much faith in broad education programmes.

“Social workers reach out to the most vulnerable and powerless people in our society and provide real help to sustain change and this needs to be backed up by legislation which is fit for purpose and is implemented consistently.

“None of the work currently being undertaken by Government to reform the NHS, to provide long term care for an ageing population, to improve parenting and to address a whole series of social ills will be effective without giving priority to social work. Social work has never been given the consistent support that it needs, and now that public service urgently needs to focus on cost effective approaches it is vital that our profession is at the forefront of developments.

“Parliament should have much more confidence in this country’s excellent social workers and that’s the message which I hope MPs will take on board.’

Social Work APPG Vice chair Mike Woods MP comments:

“As a former social worker myself, I welcome this opportunity to for MPs and Peers to discuss and debate the current issues of social work in Parliament. From personal experience, I know it can often feel like a thankless profession, and I very much hope that the Social Work APPG can begin to change that feeling”.