The British Association of Social Workers has dropped plans for an exclusive joint membership scheme with Unison in favour of discounted fees for members of all other organisations representing practitioners.
Under the new scheme, social workers who belong to unions and other professional associations, such as Aspect or Unison, will be offered a 25% discount on joining BASW, which would mean paying £160 a year instead of £213.
Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, said long-running talks with Unison over an affiliation scheme allowing social workers to become members of Unison and BASW for a single, discounted fee had “hit the sand” over finances.
“We were looking at a joint membership that would give people £100 off, but we couldn’t arrive at a figure that was satisfactory to both parties,” he said.
BASW’s council voted in favour of the associated organisations scheme in a meeting last week. The association will be writing to organisations next week inviting them to sign up to the offer, providing they agree to abide by BASW’s code of ethics.
“This is a better alternative because it’s a chance to bring together every organisation and form a strong coalition for policy development,” Dawson said.
The former Labour MP has been exploring ways of increasing BASW’s membership since he became chief executive last year. BASW has “record” membership numbers of more than 12,000, about 12% of the workforce, while Unison has 40,000 social worker members.
Dawson sent a “five-point engagement plan” to every major social work employer in the UK in September asking them to encourage social workers to join.