Principal social workers vote on financial independence from government

Members of the children’s social worker network have been asked whether a strong voice is possible without financial independence

Photo: Simon Chapman/LNP/REX

The children’s principal social worker network is to vote on whether it should attempt to become financially independent of government.

An email sent yesterday by the chair of the network asked members to vote “yes” or “no” on the following statements:

“I believe we can develop a strong voice through our network whilst being funded for administrative support by the Department for Education.

“I believe we should develop a strong voice through our network from a local authority-funded and -agreed private contract with an external provider.”

College functions

The hosting of the principal social worker (PSW) network is currently out to tender as part of a £192k package of government-funded College of Social Work legacy functions.

But children’s PSW network chair, Mandy Nightingale, said there had been talk of an “independent” network of principal social workers which did not rely on government funding.

Alternative approach

The email said it had been suggested by some members the network should consider an alternative approach to its future functioning. This could include a financial contribution from each local authority and a procurement process between the network and any potential provider.

Nightingale said she was approached by a few individuals asking her to seek members’ opinions in order to obtain a view from the whole network before taking further action.

She said: “We are a democratic network of strong, independent principal social workers and it’s not for the chair but for the network to make a decision.”

The vote has gone out to the children’s network only, but Nightingale said she was in close communication with the adults’ network chair and would share any outcomes.

Next steps

Nightingale added she saw the funding from the DfE as a reflection the government supports the network’s existence as a voice for the profession.

However, she said if the network comes forward and says as a majority it would like to move away from that funding, she would meet with members to discuss next steps.

“I do see us having an independent voice [already]. At the present time I’m happy to move the network forward as much I can while I’m chair with the financial and administrative support from the DfE.”

Accountable

But former joint chair, Tony Stanley, said the network should not continue to accept funding until it was made more accountable and provided evidence around what it had achieved.

“I think the debate around who should support us is missing the point. What are we doing, achieving, contributing? We can’t make an argument about where we should be located because we can’t make an argument about what we’re doing,” he said.

“We can’t have a network [accepting money] that doesn’t do anything or show any outcomes.”

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One Response to Principal social workers vote on financial independence from government

  1. James Marsh August 28, 2015 at 12:02 am #

    This is peculiar story and an odd move by the new chair of the network. if the PSW’s vote not to be funded by the DFE have they got agreement from their Directors of Children Services to fund the network? I assume they do not which makes it all a bit pointless.
    As Stanley rightly points out the PSW network, and PSWs generally have achieved very little, they have not challenged Trowler and her support of austerity and there is very little evidence of them making any difference to workloads for social workers or the absurd amount of paperwork that social workers face on a daily basis. The fact that PSWs have failed to challenge the DFE awarding large contracts to big accountancy firms and Trowler’s mates at Morning Lane says it all. It is interesting to note that Trowler has the most secure social work job in the country. She is now more part of the establishment than Michael Gove!
    The talk of innovation is a smokescreen for further cuts and privatisation but the PSW network does nothing to challenge this view and Nightingale with her ‘the only way is Essex approach’ is closer to Trowler and much less effective than her predecessor Marion Russel at challenging the status quo. At least Russel and Stanely were willing to say difficult things even though this seemed to make Trowler so upset she stopped turning up for the PSW childcare network meetings! For the adult network Lyn Romero is much more engaged and interested and its a real shame for childcare social work things have turned out like this.
    Lastly has anyone heard anything from Eileen Munro recently? why will she not speak on the closure of the College of Social Work and KIDS? maybe because she wants to keep in with the DFE and ensure her private enterprise alongside Turnell continues to make her lots of money. The future for social work is rather bleak and the only hope is Corbyn becoming Prime Minister in 2020!