Councils believe social workers are “too expensive” to employ implementing the personalisation agenda, a British Association of Social Workers official has warned.
Ruth Cartwright, professional officer for England, told yesterday’s World Social Work Day conference in London that BASW members were telling her that social work posts were being frozen in their authorities as they implemented personalisation.
In a question to care services minister Phil Hope, who was addressing the conference, Cartwright said: “I’m hearing from our members about senior staff in social work departments not seeing the personalisation agenda as being implemented by social workers as they are too expensive.”
Minister: Social workers should not be seen as too expensive
In response, Hope said: “I can’t talk about specific cases. But in general I don’t think it’s the case that social workers should be regarded as too expensive because I think you play a critical role in understanding the specific needs of individuals and families but also bringing together other key players.”
Under the government’s three-year Putting People First programme, which began last year, councils must roll out personal budgets, expand direct payments, promote self-assessments by users and provide universal advice and information to all users.
Care management overhaul
In a number of councils, this has involved the overhaul of traditional care management functions and the transfer of responsibility for assessment and support planning from qualified social workers to non-qualified care staff, at least for less complex cases.
Social workers have been left to support people with more complex needs, handle safeguarding issues and monitor the quality of support plans drawn up by non-qualified staff.
While this has not necessarily led to the cutting of social work posts, a Community Care survey last year found that over half believed personalisation would result in a reduction in the number of qualified social workers working in adult services by 2011.
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