Social work needs ‘new approach’ – John Alexander

Social work chiefs in southern Scotland have warned a “wholly new approach” is needed to the service if it hopes to meet its future budget targets.

A report to Dumfries and Galloway Council said a range of measures have been tried in a bid to contain costs.

However, the department remained likely to record a £2.6m overspend.

Social work director John Alexander said it was clear that “more of the same” would not do, and key changes would need to be made to the service.

Dumfries and Galloway Council was told in August 2008 that an overspend of £1.5m was likely for the financial year.

However, that figure continued to rise despite attempts to bring it under control.

‘Vulnerable citizens’

In a report to the social work services committee, Mr Alexander said a fresh approach was needed.

Among the steps being considered were increasing early intervention, defining cost ceilings for support packages and closer co-operation with partner organisations.

It was also proposed that the service look to maximise income by extending its charging policy – subject to continued protection for those in hardship.

Mr Alexander said the aim was for social services to meet a “wider range of need” and provide “better outcomes for the most vulnerable citizens” in the region.