Social Work Task Force urged to look to Scotland

The Social Work Task Force has said that it should look to Scotland for successful initiatives to boost the profession, after figures revealed job vacancies were far lower north of the border, it has been suggested.

Unison national officer for social services and taskforce member Helga Pile (right) said lessons could be learned from the Changing Lives programme to reform social work in Scotland, initiated by the Scottish government in 2006 following the 21st Century Review of Social Work.

Much lower vacancy rate in Scotland

Last week, Unison revealed that Scottish councils had a social worker vacancy rate of 7.8%, compared with 14% in England, as of 31 December 2008.

She said England should follow Scotland in introducing local practitioner forums, giving practitioners themselves the opportunity to shape practice.

Ruth Stark, the British Association of Social Workers’ professional officer for Scotland, stressed the level of political support for social work in Scotland in explaining the vacancy gap.

Alex Salmond

She said this was shown in first minister Alex Salmond’s reaction to the case of Brandon Muir, whose mother’s boyfriend was jailed in March for killing him.

Stark said: “He said it wasn’t the social workers who killed the baby, it was [Robert Cunningham]. There’s cross-party support for social work services, which is more evident than it is in England.”

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