Calibre of managers is challenged

The quality of management in social services departments and the
star-ratings system sparked controversy at Community Care Live’s
Question Time session.

Peter Beresford, professor of social policy at Brunel University,
questioned the calibre of senior managers. He said: “Who runs
social care – people who haven’t done social work for many years.
Front-line staff need to have much more say about the way social
services are run.”

He said that his own council delivered poor services, despite its
three-star rating, because it adopted a “tick box” approach to
government targets.

But Denise Platt, chair of the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, stood up for directors and the integrity of the
performance management system she oversees.

She said: “There are some inspirational directors of social
services. Three-star authority directors really tend to connect
with the front line and spend time with users. When I am in a
three-star council I know it.”

Association of Directors of Social Services president Tony Hunter
said the star-ratings system had brought senior managers and
front-line staff closer together by forcing directors to
concentrate on the “right things” and by making directors

The status of social work in the UK was also debated.

Platt said the profession in the UK had a lower status than it did
abroad, and laid much of the blame at the door of the Department of

She said: “It’s an internationally respected profession. So why is
the DoH saying that it doesn’t know what social workers do? I’m fed
up with that. People who come from abroad are amazed by the
disrespect the profession receives [here].”

The session was chaired by BBC presenter Jeremy Vine and the other
panellists were: Social Care Institute for Excellence chair Jane
Campbell, REU director Ratna Dutt, NCH chief executive Claire
Tickell and Community Care editor Polly Neate.

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