The expected squeeze in public sector investment in Scotland will make it harder for social work departments to meet policy targets set by the Scottish executive, sector leaders have said.
They told a conference on the future of social work in Scotland that ministers would have to understand the limits that funding levels placed on their plans, notably those outlined in last year’s Changing Lives strategy, which followed the 21st Century Social Work Review.
Benny McLaughlin, managing director of specialist public sector consultants Brodies, told the conference that the proportion of Scotland’s GDP spent on public services was set to fall from 42.5 to 41 per cent over coming years.
Also, he said, the NHS was taking a greater share of the total at the expense of local authorities.
Roy Jobson, director of children and families at Edinburgh Council, said: “What I’m saying is that we have a duty to say what we can provide for the money we have got.”
Eric Jackson, social work spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said many questions remained about paying for the Changing Lives reforms, one year on from their publication.
“We’re still frustrated by the lack of answers on how we can properly fund care services,” he said.
Jackson added that investment in the NHS ensuring more people could be cared for in the community rather than hospital had not been matched by resources to cater for their social care needs.