Social justice strategy could leave families worse off

Social work organisations have warned that the government's new social justice strategy could leave vulnerable families and children worse off.

Social work organisations have warned that the government’s new social justice strategy could leave vulnerable families and children worse off.

The government this week called for a major shift in resources to tackle the root causes of poverty and social breakdown.

Launching the social justice strategy, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said money should be spent on tackling the causes of social breakdown, not its consequences.

However, Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at the British Association of Social Work, warned the strategy would be hard to implement.

“Where we are now is a crisis-driven service where we can’t implement the Munro recommendations,” she said.

“We can’t really look at this without considering the current context of cuts, some children’s centres, for example, are really vulnerable at the moment. So conceptually, yes, we could agree with it, but it is hard to see how it can be comprehensively implemented and delivered.”

She also questioned why the strategy failed to mention the recommendations of the Munro Review of Child Protection. “She is conspicuous by her absence, which worries me,” she said.

[Read our special report on Munro’s recommendations]

“Care needs to be taken to ensure that the unintended consequences of this strategy do not leave vulnerable families, and particularly the children it is targeting, worse off,” a spokeswoman for the College of Social Work added.

She said that the college feared that the government’s policies on welfare reform may make the situation worse for some vulnerable families.

Duncan Smith has called for an end to spending “dysfunctional money” on problem families, which only deals with short-term difficulties.

He wants councils and government agencies to focus on early interventions to help people turn their lives around before their problems get out of hand. The strategy focuses on helping individuals and families with multiple needs.

Duncan Smith said: “The fact is that many vulnerable individuals and families come into regular contact with government agencies throughout their lives.

“They will be meeting with health visitors, social workers, school officials and even job centre staff. It’s at these critical points that we must be more joined up, more brave and offer help to people to turn their lives around. There is a lot of money being spent on families but it is dysfunctional money that goes to solve only short-term problems. We can’t keep allowing endemic problems to be passed on to the next generation.”

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