A re-elected Labour government would establish a national college for social work and develop a national care service, while constraining public sector pay.
That was the message from the party’s election manifesto, which was published this week, formally installing several previously announced initiatives into its programme for a fourth term.
The manifesto pledged to overhaul training and raise the status and standards of the profession, through the national college. It also promised to publish detailed summaries of serious case reviews on child deaths, though not the full reports. The measures were included in last month’s social work reform plan.
In line with last month’s care White Paper, the party proposed to introduce a national care service for older and disabled people, with consistent nationwide eligibility criteria and an aspiration to provide services free at the point of need from 2015.
However, the manifesto emphasised the need to make efficiency savings of £15bn in 2010-11 and a further £11bn by 2012-13 at a time of “constrained
resources”. Public sector pay rises will be capped at 1% a year.
But it also said Labour wanted to boost standards and make public services more personalised. Measures proposed include allowing the best providers to
take over failing or coasting services and encouraging staff and users to run services themselves.
Among few new pledges, it promised a “guarantee of supported employment after two years on benefit” for adults with the most serious conditions or
This was welcomed by the Disability Alliance, which has led criticisms of the government’s efforts to identify more disabled people as fit for work as part of its welfare reform agenda.
Policy director Neil Coyle said: “We know there are many disabled people who want to work so any genuine initiative that supports people to find suitable employment and retain employment, which is harder, should be very welcome.”
In children’s services, social workers would be increasingly based in schools under plans to co-locate services for children.