Social work is about fighting for social justice and challenging oppression. We need to lend our voice to Saturday’s anti-austerity protests, writes Lizzie Furber*.
On Saturday hundreds of thousands of people will take to the streets for the TUC march for ’A future that works’. The march’s anti-austerity message that the government’s spending cuts are not working should be familiar to us as social workers.
David Cameron can tell us that “we’re all in this together”, but as social workers we know this couldn’t be further from the truth.
We see the devastating impact of the cuts
We work with the most vulnerable people in society and see first hand the devastating effects that the cuts have already had. We also know how terrible the impact of prolonged austerity will be.
These cuts are an ideologically-driven attack on those who are already oppressed. They disproportionately affect people who need support from multiple services and black and minority ethnic communities.
Housing benefit caps mean that people with low incomes are being forced to move out of city centres. Yet at the Conservative Party conference George Osborne refused to consider a mansion tax on wealthy home owners.
One in seven children are going without a hot meal. Yet according to Osborne to increase tax on the rich would be ‘unfair’.
These cuts affect all areas of social work
These cuts affect all areas of social work. Disabled people are put through dehumanising work capability assessments in order to claim employment support allowance with 1,100 people dying last year after being found fit for work.
Children’s services in Devon look set to be taken over by Virgin Care, setting a dangerous precedent in the privatisation of NHS and social care services.
Voluntary organisations vital to the support of people with mental health issues and learning disabilities are losing their funding due to NHS and Local Authority spending cuts.
Caseloads and NQSW unemployment are soaring
Caseloads are soaring along with NQSW unemployment due to cuts to statutory budgets. Personalisation is being used as a money saving strategy rather than the empowering shift in service provision that it could be.
Social work is about fighting for social justice. Social work is about challenging oppression. Social work is about giving a voice to the most vulnerable in society.
That is why social workers should be marching on Saturday to say NO to more years of austerity. It is our job to do so.
*Lizzie Furber is a social worker and a member of the Social Work Action Network.