Unison has launched a nationwide campaign to stop councils from cutting adult social worker posts in the face of public spending cuts and the government’s personalisation agenda.
The union, which has 40,000 social worker members across the UK, has published a toolkit on dealing with personalisation in social care, which calls on local branches to seek an agreement with employers that there will not be a cull of qualified adult social workers. The agreement should also stipulate that no social work tasks be merged into other care roles.
It follows concerns that personalisation could be seen as a way of providing “social work on the cheap”, Unison said. The guidance states: “Valuing and rewarding the important central professional role of social workers and providing access to social workers for service users is integral to building a quality personalised social care system.”
Unison has written to all directors of adult services and councillors with responsibility for social care to ask for their support and to work together with the union on delivering personalisation.
Last week, the College of Social Work warned that employers were using personalisation as an excuse to replace social workers with unqualified staff.
Meanwhile Miranda Wixon, joint head of a new sector-wide partnership to promote personalisation, has said councils were wrong to reduce the number of qualified social workers in their drive to implement self-directed care.
“We all know that you can’t leave policy to drive itself through,” said Wixon, joint chair of the Think Local, Act Personal Partnership, which launched today. “Social work staff are integral to that.”
Unison’s toolkit also includes a 10-point plan to improve adult social work services. As well as a clear political commitment to strengthening the role of social work in adult services, the union is calling for national standards on acceptable caseloads and urgent action to fill vacancies.
In addition, local branches have been urged to ensure councils have carried out a workload “health check”, as recommended by the Social Work Task Force.
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