Would a Conservative government be so bad for social work? Peter Corser speculates

I qualified as a social worker in June 1997 and began working as a social worker in that same year.

That puts me in a relatively lonely position, along with my fellow graduates of 1997. I have worked in social work for more than 10 years and have never worked under the Tories.

The other accident of the timing of my DipSW was that I did an extra year for my degree in 1998 with a grant to support me. One year later, I would have had to pay the tuition fees introduced by the government my colleagues had waited 18 long years for.

Older workers love to patronise those of us who have never worked under the Tories. They sit at the fireside and revel in their gory tales. They tell of the terrible cuts and the fear for jobs and the lack of resources. And I scratch my head and think this all sounds a bit familiar.

It has become clear in recent weeks that the Tories’ long years of self-destruction may have come to an end.

It seems it may be a reality that a lot of us have to begin to face in the next few years that we may be working under a Conservative government.

It is the curse of working in the public sector that you have to put up with being a football for politicians keen to look tougher than each other. They never stop to think that the people whose jobs they casually dismiss are taxpayers and voters to.

The only people who are nice to us are the Liberal Democrats. But that’s like being friends with the other kid who is being bullied. Terribly nice, but not much use for us on the frontline.

So who will be our better “masters” for the future? I suggest that it does not matter that much, the way the political parties are at the moment.

A consistent feature of social work is that the ground constantly shifts beneath your feet. The authority I work with reorganised four years after I joined. Six years later they are reorganising again. Every year there are new hoops to jump through to do our job and every month there are new priority areas to target.

The one other constant is the way social workers deal with these shifting sands. They complain that nobody seems to know what they are doing up top and then just get on with the job. And we do it very well. That’s the same whoever is steering the ship!

Peter Corser is a mental health social worker in the West Midlands

This article appeared in the 8 November issue under the headline “A change of government?”


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