New president wants to boost social care’s status within government

Despite anger over government plans to fine social services for
delayed discharges, most directors believe that active discussion
and participation is better than conflict.

The mood was disclosed by the incoming Association of Directors of
Social Services president David Behan, who said: “As Alan Milburn
told us ‘partnerships are not always easy or comfortable’ but to
mix my metaphors – or his – we need to be ‘in the tent prepared to
use our elbows!'”

Maintaining a dialogue was also important in order to let
government know this was going to be a particularly challenging
year because of lack of resources – despite the extra 6 per cent
from the comprehensive spending review.

“But how do we do this without whingeing?” Behan asked, pointing
out that the health service had won extra resources thanks to the
Wanless report which was published alongside the Budget in

The report did not cover social care issues but it did leave the
door open for this to be done in future.

Behan said: “It is my view this work should be undertaken as a
matter of priority so it can inform the work that will feed into
the next comprehensive spending review.”

In a wide-ranging speech, he noted that while chief inspectors of
social services remained key figures in government in Wales and
Northern Ireland, in England the post of chief inspector would
transfer from the Department of Health to the new Commission for
Social Care Inspection.

“This will leave a gap in influence and input that must be filled
if social care’s voice is to be fully heard. Social care must have
a voice at the top table in the Department of Health,” he said.

Behan also urged the Social Care Institute for Excellence to
convene a leadership group that could act as an authoritative voice
for social care.

He said: “It is important that there is a confident debate about
the future of social work and social care because it makes a
distinctive and sometimes unique contribution to the lives of
people who are vulnerable and marginalised. Some social care is
excellent, some only adequate, but if there were none at all
society would be much the poorer.”

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