As social services departments transform into mixes of
children’s trusts with education, care trusts with health, and
other integrated arrangements such as Sure Start and Children’s
Fund programmes, who is going to champion social care?
No longer will there be social services departments within local
government, while in central government social care has already
lost its seat at the top table in the Department of Health, and
much current draft legislation is hardly sympathetic to social
To some extent, the government has sought to protect and promote
social care and social work by establishing various organisations
such as the General Social Care Council, the Commission for Social
Care Inspection, and the Social Care Institute for Excellence. But
recently it has mooted combining some of these social care
organisations with others such as those that focus on health.
Furthermore, although no longer on the cards, the government’s
plan to transfer seven Department of Health partnership programmes
to Scie would have broadened Scie’s remit in such a way that its
independence as a charity and a company limited by guarantee would
have been challenged. The proposed changes would have probably
resulted in Scie becoming a distributor of government policy.
So what needs to happen? The social care sector needs to cling
on to its independence. Would doctors, nurses, or teachers find it
acceptable that their professional views, based on expertise,
should be defined and determined by the government via the NHS or
Department for Education and Skills?
Also, as well as registering with the GSCC, social workers
should also join the British Association of Social Workers as their
professional organisation. The rest of the social care workforce
should join the Social Care Association. Also, social care
organisations must promote evidence-based policy and practice.
The sector needs to stay close to its service users in setting
agendas and creating the vision. After all, as the sector asserts
its independence it is vital that it remembers for whom it is
Ray Jones is director of adult and community services at