BASW Statement on UK Government Strategy for Children's Social Care
BASW and people affected by children’s social care services eagerly await the release of the UK Government’s implementation plan for transformational change in England, trailed as potentially a ‘long-term strategy to fix children’s social care’.
What has been published today in a short press release suggests the government is offering only a piecemeal approach to tackling longstanding issues within children’s care. It looks unlikely to deliver the serious strategy we hope for, prioritising much needed funding and a comprehensive plan to fix workload, the experience of children and families, and the crisis in the workforce.
Following on from the Government press release and our initial statement in response, the government has published Stable Homes, Built on Love: Implementation Strategy and Consultation, its implementation strategy to fix children's social care in England in response to the Independent Review of Children's Social Care. BASW England will publish a fuller response to the strategy shortly.
The Government announcement of £200 million over the next two years falls short of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care’s ask of £2.6 billion funding over four years and even shorter than the billions lost since the Government introduced its austerity policies in 2010.
What we hope the Government will do is deliver the immediate support that is needed for children across the country now after years of underfunding of children’s social care. We are concerned that the wide evidence of crisis now in the sector is being taken sufficiently seriously as indicated by the proposed level of funding.
Workforce Challenges Remain
Despite record levels of social workers leaving children’s posts in English councils, the Government still appears to have no clear and funded plan on how to retain social workers in the children’s care system and ensure their working conditions are fit for their role. The message from social workers is clear: high caseloads and complex cases increasing demand on the system has led to this crisis and the failure to address this sufficiently is disappointing.
Extra funds for the recruitment of 500 children’s social care apprentices are positive but falls well short of what is required. BASW maintains the need for a national recruitment strategy of social workers as well as a national review of their pay, terms, and conditions to make sure the profession is given the support and value is deserves.
BASW supports the Government’s recognition of the role of foster carers who can make a transformational difference to the lives of children and young people. We welcome the new funding to ensure that foster carers receive an above-inflation increase in their allowance.
We also support the Government’s move to invest £9 million in training and support for all kinship carers. We await further details on their plans for a new financial allowance, possible additional workplace entitlements and options for an extension of legal aid for kinship carers who become Special Guardians or who hold Child Arrangement Orders.
Whilst there are positives, we remain incredibly disappointed that the Government has yet again failed to listen to the concerns of care leavers who have campaigned to Keep Caring up to 18. The Government has ignored concerns about the need for protection in favour of focusing efforts on befriending and mentor schemes. Whilst such measures are positive, BASW find it concerning that we have a Government that wants to offer friendship, but not protection as these plans do nothing to solve the issues with unregulated accommodation that puts young people over 16 at risk.
BASW England’s response has featured on Channel 4, The Guardian and Community Care:
- ‘The cards are already stacked against us. I know first-hand as a care leaver the hurdles that I had to face just to survive’ BASW England Professional Officer and care leaver Rebekah Pierre on Channel 4 News speaking out on how £200m announced for childrens social care changes very little. 2nd February 2023
- Its ambition for earlier intervention was welcomed by campaigners - but there was disappointment at the amount of money on offer. Rebekah Pierre BASW England Professional Officer – The Guardian. 2nd February 2023
- Sector bodies heavily criticise government for providing £200m over two years for children's social care reforms in response to MacAlister review's call for £2.6bn over five years. Community Care. 2nd February 2023
- BASW England chair Vava Tampa on Channel 4 News lays out exactly what is needed to help children’s social workers manage poor working conditions and how to lower caseloads, ahead of the Government’s revealing its response to the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care.
- Watch the ministerial statement on the review being given by Gillian Keegan MP in the House of Commons via Parliament TV on 2nd February 2023.