From the vaults

Ten years ago

 So, local authority workers think a 2% pay offer is bad. Trust us, it could be worse – a decade ago, care workers at a Norfolk nursing home were given supermarket vouchers as part of their pay deal.

At the time, the proprietor said it was the only way of giving low-paid workers an increase (offering vouchers is cheaper because they attract lower employer National Insurance contributions).

Let’s hope this doesn’t give the Local Government Employers any silly ideas. Before we know it, they could be back at the bargaining table 1% plus £50 M&S vouchers, or two-for-one vouchers for Woolworths.

 Social workers topped the stress league of 100 different professionals back in May 1997. The survey compared the effects of pay, public esteem, workloads and expectations. The researcher said “there are fewer social workers, they are less valued by society and they are more accountable than ever before”. Sound familiar?

 Perhaps social workers would be less stressed if they’d taken heed of then Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith’s warning ten years ago of “too many meetings, not enough action”. He urged social work departments to take a long, hard look at spending on bureaucratic structures and procedures.

Apparently, his please fell on deaf ears. As we revealed in 26 April, our exclusive survey of 1,000 social workers found that three-quarters of social workers spend more than 40% of their time today on admin.

Five years ago

 St Albans Council’s ran into trouble five years ago after this story found its way into the local papers. the council’s housing department placed a homeless alcoholic with mental health needs in a lap dancing pub.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it emerged that children, women fleeing domestic violence, and a teenage mum had also been housed in the same pub.

In what must have been one of the gross understatements of the year, a council spokesperson questioned about the suitability of the venue for vulnerable clients admitted it was “far from ideal”.

Sadly, venues that are even further from ideal continue to be used today – the

shortage of good B&Bs means we still hear stories of care leavers being housed nextdoor to crack dens and mixing with drug addicts and criminals. It makes lap dancing pubs looks relatively innocuous by comparison.

 Social workers may laugh hollowly when re-reading Alan Milburn’s speech to the RCN Congress in May 2002. The then health secretary told delegates that social services were no longer the poor relation of health services and that thanks to the Budget, social services would have extra resources to stabilise the care homes market and buy more care home beds.

Note, he did not say social services would have extra resources to bail out overspent primary care trusts – although perhaps that’s what PCT chief executives thought Milburn meant when he said: “Health and social servicesboth rely on each other.”


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