Hackney to give more power to front line

Traditional social work teams are being disbanded in Hackney Council’s children’s department as part of a radical overhaul of services.

The London council is now seeking consultant social workers to work in small units with other professionals.

Under the restructure, layers of management will be stripped away and social workers will have the authority to make decisions on cases without referring them to team managers.

Deputy director of children and young people Steve Goodman said: “One of the most common things families will hear from social workers is ‘I need to go back and talk to my manager’ and social workers lose the authority to practise in a professional way because a lot of the job is tied down to process.

“Now, a social worker has to go back to their team manager and talk about a case with them and a decision will made even though the team manager has not met the family.”

He added that in many social work departments there was an “overemphasis in process,” which left many highly skilled people frustrated. “We are ending social work teams and what we are doing is very unusual, if not unique,” he said.

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