Tories make play for social workers’ affections with promise on status

Social workers would be given the same status as doctors and teachers under plans being prepared by the Conservatives, shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton told the party conference this week.

Loughton, addressing a fringe meeting, berated the government for failing to acknowledge the contribution of social workers, and pledged to create a “level playing field” of status and reward for social workers and other public sector workers.

He attacked the “lousy” depiction of social workers in the media and called for them to be seen as “part of the solution, not part of the problem”.

Loughton said he would unveil a plan to “transform the status and respect” of social workers at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Brighton later this month.

He also pledged to raise the age that children leave care to 23 – the average age that children in the general population leave home – and argued that the state let go of children in care too early.

He slammed the care system as a scandal and called for social workers and the state to behave like pushy parents to improve provision.

Loughton also warned that the government would stigmatise children with its plans to tackle social exclusion by intervening in the lives of disadvantaged families before their children were born.

He said a Conservative government would not “unravel” the Every Child Matters reforms, but he warned that the planned database of children in England could lead to “ID cards for children by the back door”.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley blasted the government’s social exclusion plans. He said Tony Blair “appears to believe that snatch squads of social workers, taking children into care, are preferable to putting every effort into supporting children to stay with their family”.

Soundbites from the Conference
● “We’ll have SAT tests for embryos before long” – Tim Loughton on Labour’s children’s policies
● “We will support the family, not supplant the family. Labour nationalise child care and dictate to families” – Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley

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