Social Skirmishes: Rosie warlock on a quote that made her mad

Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, tells us what’s on her mind

● As social workers employed by a local authority, my colleagues and I have had a few dealings with councillors.

In the past some of them have been very helpful, standing up for us and doing their best to obtain extra money in the budget for our department – and it isn’t always along party lines. Most never bother us. A few will hang us out to dry when we need help. After all, who wants to stand next to a children’s social worker during a crisis – it is a sure way to lose precious votes.

Occasionally, one of them says something that is just so ignorant of what social care is that it takes my breath away, I stand there open-mouthed not quite believing what I have heard or read.

One such moment occurred only last week. There is a move among councils to privatise even more services, including social care, in order to save money. Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex Council (one of the pioneers), told The Times (4 March) that many of the council’s services would be contracted out, especially assessment. Afterall, he says: “Assessment is pretty much the same whether you are assessing potholes or care for the elderly.”

Which sums up all that is wrong about our attitudes to older people and social care in general. But when there is a crisis, the council leadership unites to say it has nothing to do with this appalling short-sighted view or the cuts or the understaffing.

If looking after vulnerable people is to be put on the same basis as potholes then I dread the future of council-run social care.

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