Social Work Task Force: Past reviews of the profession

The social work profession has been subject to many wide-ranging reviews over the past 40 years but, after landing on ministers’ desks, they do not always have the impact on policy intended by the reports’ authors.


1968: Seebohm committee review of local authority social services in England and Wales. Chaired by Frederick (Lord) Seebohm, concluded that service provision was fragmented and undermined by poor co-ordination.

Government response: Positive. Led in 1971 to the creation of social services departments in councils bringing together services for children and families and for adults.


1982: Barclay report on the roles and tasks of social workers in England and Wales Sir Peter Barclay called for more emphasis on community engagement, and a new social work role of broker of resources.

Government response: Negative. Recommendations were largely ignored by Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.


2007: Social work at its best: a statement of social work roles and tasks for the 21st century The General Social Care Council’s review promoted the need for more face-to-face work with clients, and working alongside other professions.

Government response: Lukewarm. Ministers failed to publicly endorse the document and the work has been superseded by the Social Work Task Force.

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