BASW ‘disappointed’ as College merger talks collapse

The British Association of Social Workers has expressed its "grave disappointment" at the College of Social Work's decision to temporarily abandon the move towards merging the two organisations.

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The British Association of Social Workers has expressed its “grave disappointment” at the College of Social Work’s decision to temporarily abandon the move towards merging the two organisations.

The association said it was “surprised” the College of Social Work’s interim board had “today suddenly decided to put their ‘entire’ efforts into establishing a college without BASW’s involvement”.

The College of Social Work had earlier announced that it would launch on 3 January, without BASW’s support.

“In spite of our wholehearted endeavours to negotiate a merger with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), it has proved impossible to reach agreement with them within the necessary timescales,” a College spokesperson said.

BASW said it was “extremely surprised to read that it was ‘impossible’ to meet ‘necessary timescales’ for an agreement with BASW”, adding: “The association is so committed to meeting these necessary timescales that we had arranged a 1 November additional general meeting (AGM) to transfer our organisation’s entire assets into a new entity – a united college of social work across the UK.”

BASW’s council was meeting today to agree the resolutions to be put before its members at the AGM.

The statement from BASW continued: “It is deeply regrettable that, without any consultation, the interim board has torn up the memorandum of understanding agreed with BASW as recently as May this year.

“This announcement [by the College] includes no reference to BASW’s calls for the establishment of a transition board, comprised of three BASW and three representatives from the interim board of the College. All of them would have been required to give up the posts they hold with their current organisations, which we believe could have overcome any remaining obstacles to creating a united college.”

Fran Fuller, UK chair of BASW (pictured, right), added: “The timing is especially disappointing given that BASW’s proposal for a transition board received a positive response from senior figures within the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the College.

“It appears these people have been marginalised by others who, considering the fact that the transitionary proposal represented a clear way forward, have never had any genuine intention to reach an agreement with BASW and its 14,000 social work members.”

However, the College has strongly refuted this claim. Dorit Braun, project director for the College, told Community Care: “No individuals have scuppered the talks; rather, we had no agreement on the things we needed to do. We couldn’t agree the basic principles around union membership, given BASW has formed its own union, and we couldn’t pin down some of the governance and start up arrangements.

“The College is receiving large amounts of public funding; there are requirements about how we set it up, and it has got to be viable by April. But BASW wanted to move straight to setting up a transition board and becoming a legal entity, before we had reached agreement on how the College would operate.

“We did a risk assessment and the risks were sky high.”

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