The social work bursary should be means-tested, say employers

Some support is better than no support at all, says the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services in response to proposals to reform the bursary scheme

Social work students may be left to fend for themselves (Stockdisk/Getty Images)
Social work students may be left to fend for themselves (Stockdisk/Getty Images)

The social work bursary should be means-tested and a cap introduced on the number of students who receive it, according to employers in adult services.

Responding the Department of Health’s (DH) consultation on proposals to reform the bursary scheme, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) said this was the best of five options on the table.

The consultation was launched in a bid to make funding for social work education deliver more value for money. The other options are to:

  • Offer the bursary to a capped number of postgraduate students only
  • Offer it to a capped number of undergraduate students in their second and final years, as well as postgraduate students
  • End the bursary completely and reinvest in other social work training
  • Create a new scheme based on successful completion of the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE)

Adass said deferring the bursary or linking it to successful completion of the ASYE would detract from its power as an initial incentive to go into social work.

On the option to end the bursary scheme, the association said: “Stopping the bursary is entirely inconsistent with the ambitions of the Social Work Reform Board to enhance the profession and encourage graduate entrants.”

It concluded: “The offer of some support is better than no support, so means testing is the better compromise.”

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