Social work bursaries should go to councils, says LGA

Councils say the bursary pot should be taken off universities and used to skill up the existing workforce

money pots
Photo: REX/OJO Images

Social work bursaries, currently available to social work students, would be more effective in the hands of councils, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

Cllr David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People board, said the £65m bursary pot available to higher education institutions should be allocated to local authorities instead, to help meet the need for more skilled social workers.

“The purpose of this money was to skill up people for the work force.

“In many areas, career development for existing social workers and recruiting experienced managers are higher priorities than getting more people through social work courses,” Simmonds said.

He pointed out there were no assurances that current trainees would find their way into any of the many vacancies around the country because of a vetting process that means universities don’t always attract the best candidates.

At the National Children’s and Adult’s  Services conference last week Simmonds called on the government to be smarter with resources in order to meet the skills crisis head on.

He said if the money was given to councils, they could use it to fund the career development of existing social workers as well as funding placements for students. This would allow councils to fill the particular gaps in their local workforce better.

“Local councils are the ones that employ the social workers- they know what the local needs are,” Simmonds said.

“You could be getting more bang for your buck if the money was used more flexibly.”

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5 Responses to Social work bursaries should go to councils, says LGA

  1. Kate Kelly November 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Without the bursary many potentially brilliant social workers from poor backgrounds will not feel able to apply. As a single mum to three children I would certainly have had second thoughts. As it is (I am now in my 2nd year) I had three jobs two of them cleaning to get me through year one. Now in year two I cannot begin to imagine how I would begin to juggle the demands of family, college, placement and a paid job on top.
    Taking the bursary away from HEIs will mean people like me who are trying their best to make a better life for them and their families could have another stumbling block put in our way. If money is needed to invest in the existing profession it should be found elsewhere.

  2. Ken November 6, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    I wouldn’t trust LA’s with them as it would possibly be hived off to inflate salaries of the already over paid management

  3. Jon Hyslop November 7, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Perhaps Cllr Simmonds has forgotten the many thousands of social workers employed by local community organisations and in the NHS? It’s been a long time since Local Authorities were the only employers, and the current trend seems to be for greater outsourcing. The bursary is meant to pay for the requirements of the sector as a whole, not one group of employers – even a very important one.

  4. Nhlanganiso November 8, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Why can’t Cllr Simmonds simply ask Government to allocate more money for LAs CPD programmes than seek to divert money that has already been allocated for HEI bursaries for SW students – that feels a bit contemptuous and condescending towards SW students

  5. Susanna Thorndyke November 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Where academic qualifications are vital in social work, personal experience is valuable; and some of the best social workers are those who have come from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds. The social work bursery has enabled them to forfill their aspirations, not only to improve the lives of their own families but those of society and particular service users. We are all overseen by a current government whos chief agender is to get everyone into work and to cut benefits, this includes those who are working very hard in low paid jobs, struggling to support themselves and their families. By destroying the aspirations of education for the less well off, it would serve only to keep many exceptionaly talanted people out of work or on very low incomes, still dependent on welfare assistence. This just adds to the list of false economies apparent since the conservative government came to power,