Adults’ staff strategy fails to consider social work role

The adult social care workforce strategy for England has failed to address fears about changes in the social work role under personalisation, sector leaders have warned.

The 50-page strategy, published by the Department of Health on 23 April, has only 12 paragraphs about social work, including the previously announced £4m to support newly-qualified entrants. It has no new proposals for social workers.


The strategy contains a £75m plan for the creation of 50,000 social care traineeships using unemployed under-25s, and the introduction of a registration scheme for domiciliary workers.

Care services minister Phil Hope told Community Care the government was waiting for the Social Work Taskforce to report in October, adding that he “couldn’t pre-empt” this.

Personalisation concerns

The British Association of Social Workers responded by urging the government to address personalisation concerns. Ruth Cartwright, BASW professional officer, said the strategy failed to allay fears about the “erosion of the social work role” in adult services.

She said that some social workers felt “elbowed out” by the government’s vision for choice, control and independent living outlined in Putting People First.

Cartwright added: “We fear there is not a strong enough endorsement of the profession to reverse this trend, especially in cash-strapped times.”

Cultural change

A spokeperson for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services responded to BASW’s claims by saying that the social work role would remain strong under personalisation.

Margaret Geary, director of adult services at Portsmouth Council, said that extra work was needed to enable the cultural change in the workforce. “If we build on the skills that social workers already have, they will have an enhanced role, not a diminished role.”

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