Plans to restructure social services at Edinburgh Council would
make it “possible and even likely” that outcomes for children would
be damaged, the Association of Directors of Social Work has
The council is considering plans for an education and children’s
services department, which would be made up of the services for
children currently provided separately by social work and
education. A new department of social work would provide all other
The ADSW said that the move could increase the distance between
children’s services and other services accessed through social
work, such as mental health and disability.
The proposals follow an inquiry report on the death of 11-week-old
Caleb Ness, who was shaken to death by his father. The report found
that Caleb’s death had been avoidable.
Splitting up social services would create “a range of different
accountabilities for them which would not increase the chances of
improved outcomes” said Alexis Jay, vice-president of the ADSW and
director of social work and housing at West Dunbartonshire Council.
“The origin of these proposals was the Caleb Ness case, where the
problem was one of co-ordination within social services itself. The
need to improve co-ordination is not helped by spreading them
further,” she added.
The ADSW believes that any upheaval brought about by the changes
could have a negative effect on staff morale in the short term.
Edinburgh’s chief social work officer and ADSWpresident Duncan
MacAulay had no input into the proposals.
Unison members in Edinburgh’s social work department are
considering strike action over the proposals, with the decision
likely to depend on whether any staff in the Caleb Ness case will
face disciplinary action. A decision is expected later this week.
The Edinburgh branch of Unison said that the report into Caleb’s
death contained inaccuracies and reached “dubious conclusions”
(news, page 7, 8 January).