David Cameron raised an unexpected cheer for social workers in his speech at the Conservative party conference today. However, typically, Cameron’s references to social work seemed to include only those working with children.
Nestled in between references to adoption and the welfare system, the prime minister said: “Social work is a noble and vital calling. I’ll never forget how after my son Ivan was born, a social worker sat patiently in our kitchen and told us about the sort of help we might need.”
He went on to show his strong backing for the Frontline training scheme, a pet project of education secretary Michael Gove. “This government has helped get some of the brightest graduates into teaching and we have pledged to do the same for social work,” he said, before ending with a resounding cry: “Now let us hear it for Britain’s social workers who are doing such an important job in our country today!”
Bridget Robb, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, welcomed Cameron’s support, adding: “We very much hope the government will be equally supportive of local authorities in order to translate these words into actions.
“These are clearly difficult times for the public purse but if finances improve, as the prime minister believes they will, so our overstretched social services teams must be prioritised in receiving the injection of resources they need.”
Meanwhile in health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s speech, Community Care’s social care bingo identified only one mention of “social care”, two short paragraphs on the Dilnot reforms and no mentions of “mental health”.
Photo by Ray Tang/Rex Features