£8.5 million given to private companies to develop social worker accreditation, government reveals

The children's minister reveals private companies have received the bulk of funding for developing social worker accreditation tests

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Photo: Mito Images/Rex Shuttershock

Private companies have received £8.52 million of government funding as part of the implementation of social work accreditation, it has been revealed.

In a written statement this week, children’s minister Robert Goodwill broke down spending on the controversial accreditation scheme, which will begin phase one of its rollout next year.

Responding to questions from shadow children’s minister Emma Lewell-Buck, Goodwill said the government had spent £11.22 million so far on the consultation, preparation and introduction of the accreditation system and phase one and phase two of the implementation.

“This total is split £2.7 million for local authorities and £8.52 million for private companies,” Goodwill said.

Funding breakdown

The full breakdown for spend on the accreditation test for social workers so far is:

  • £3.66 million in consulting on and preparing for the introduction of the accreditation system.
  • £2.7 million for the preparation of local authorities for phase one and phase two of the test’s rollout.
  • £4.86 million for the introduction, operational delivery and evaluation of the assessment.

The process will see social workers endorsed by employers before doing an online assessment of knowledge, an observed interactive practice simulation and a written assessment.

Frontline social workers who pass the test will become approved child and family practitioners, while managers who complete the test will become practice supervisors. A test for senior leaders is still being developed.

Accreditation controversy

The accreditation test for social workers has been mired in controversy since it was first announced, as the sector has argued spending money on such tests is not necessary at a time of dwindling resources. The government has also faced backlash over private-sector involvement in the test’s development after it was announced private consultancies KPMG and Morning Lane Associates would design the assessment process.

The response to the consultation, as revealed by the Department for Education earlier this month, was mixed. Just 34% of the 396 respondents agreed with the initial proposal to accredit all social workers by 2020, while 59% were split between being uncertain that it would work and flatly saying it would not.

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14 Responses to £8.5 million given to private companies to develop social worker accreditation, government reveals

  1. James December 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    What a JOKE!! not sure what else can be said.

  2. kaz December 22, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

    Ridiculous amount of money in this climate!

  3. Borstal Boy December 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    Surely as taxpayers we are entitled to know just which private concerns have benefitted?

  4. Carol December 22, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    I as a social worker have lost the will to live. What are they trying to achieve with this?

  5. Stuart December 22, 2017 at 7:30 pm #

    Incomprehensible. What more is there to say.

    Happy midwinter shopping festival.

  6. Harold Dory December 23, 2017 at 7:48 am #

    £8.5 m given to local authorities to alleviate austerity would have helped address the needs of the poor and vulnerable we work with, and could have helped improve terms and conditions for social workers.
    Instead – more profit for the the big corporations, more hoops for social workers to jump through, less incentive to do the job, more local authority administration.
    Whatever happened to social work and support for the common good?

  7. Sandra December 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

    This absolutely terrible what a complete waste of time and money that could be use on services for vunerable adults and children.

  8. Hels December 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    Please define a frontline social worker?

  9. londonboy December 23, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

    Is it just me or is that a lot of taxpayer’s money? The article does not state why the money was allocated in this way, who set the budget, whether work to date was over/under budget or how quality is measured..bit of a strange one really.

    • londonboy January 8, 2018 at 12:46 pm #

      Mates rates, mates perks perhaps?

  10. Vicki January 1, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

    Does anyone know how to apply for these apprenticeships and in which areas will they be offered?

  11. Katie Politico January 5, 2018 at 7:17 am #

    The sooner we get this government out the better starting with local elections in May. Anyone who isn’t wealthy but votes Tory is voting not only for their own demise but the demise of society.

  12. Celia Fowler January 5, 2018 at 9:37 pm #

    What a waste of taxpayers money goodness me a private company once again given millions of pounds. Please give that money directly to be used on preventing children’s poverty and improving their family life. Let Social Workers work with families, not just type up endless assessments where actions cannot be fully implemented because there are no services. Reduce the caseloads, just stop strangling the profession. Typically of this Government let’s do something completely unnecessary to deflect our bungling and lack of knowledge, let’s create austerity, more misery and poverty then we can blame the Social Workers, or anyone but us and our awful policies. No one can solve the huge problems that seven years of this Government have created. It’s just such a shame these are vulnerable people that Social Workers have a duty to protect, reduce risk, manage risk, and help children or vulnerable adults. Invest in children not just at the expensive care end, prevent their family breaking down as it is much less costly.

  13. Diane Galpin January 7, 2018 at 11:36 am #

    Sorry for the long comment , but stick with it if you can….

    I am not surprised there are no comments here, the timing of the release of this information was designed to ensure it disappears without trace so as not to attract the attention of those, such as myself, who are disillusioned by governments failure, and those who represent social work to government, to do nothing but tinker around the edges and not address the real issues which face both those who receive and deliver social work services.

    I am perturbed by this news for two reasons. Firstly, the proposed accreditation system is a costly red herring which detracts attention away from the real issues impacting social work practice today.

    Lets just consider how the proposed accreditation process might have improved the practice of the manager who was recently made subject to a 12-month conditions of practice order by the HCPC for ‘supervision failure’, despite the fitness to practice panel saying he worked with “a heavy caseload, poor working conditions, inadequate management support of him in his role as a manager and significant personal health issues”.

    At one stage, the social work manager was responsible for managing about 120 cases, whereas 65 cases was the optimum caseload.

    The manager felt that the investigator of this case, a locum practice improvement manager, did not appreciate the burden of the caseload upon him in their findings. Suggesting there was no time or space for social workers to reduce the caseload by closing cases, which involved significant administration the report said.

    (http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2018/01/03/social-worker-sanctioned-supervision-failures-despite-heavy-caseload-poor-working-conditions/)

    How many practitioners reading this now are thinking, this could be me?

    The proposed accreditation process will not address failure by government, and those who represent the profession to government, to address the real issues that significantly impact on professional practice, such as; high case loads, diminishing resources, bureaucratic systems; organisational culture, burnout, limited opportunity for high quality supervision, a coherent and funded CPD programme, political failure to address issues such poverty in income, food poverty, fuel poverty, poor housing, job insecurity, inequality and a pervading sense of hopelessness as both those who require services and deliver services see little authenticity in governments approach to effect genuine improvement.

    My second concern is the continued involvement of the private company Morning Lane Associates in shaping the future of social work, whose co-founder is the current chief social worker Isabelle Trowler. A previous investigation found the chief social worker had been consulted on the bid involving Morning Lane, worth an initial £2.6m, to develop the accreditation system for children’s social workers. http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2016/10/26/government-admits-errors-handling-chief-social-workers-conflict-interest/
    This is in addition to the millions Morning Lane has received as professional advisor and training partner to Frontline, and in addition to the £4m in Innovation Fund money Morning Lane received to roll out its Reclaiming Social Work model to five authorities.
    We will see more involvement of Morning Lane in 2018 when Frontline receives more funding via additional funding for fast track social work training schemes in 2018. In respect of this funding the DfE says £35m was invested in Step Up and Frontline between 2010 and 2015 and £100m will be invested over the next four years.

    However, the Department has refused to provide a breakdown of how the funding was split between the two programmes. http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2016/02/03/social-work-fast-track-schemes-dont-know/

    While there is no suggestion of legal wrongdoing, fears continue that children’s social work is being pushed in a particular direction – by the agenda of a small number of powerful people with a large amount of influence, and a large amount of money.

    For example it is reported Frontline also receives ‘pro bono’ support from several other powerful and influential private companies, for example

    The Boston Consulting Group, an American worldwide management consulting firm with 90 offices in 50 countries.[The firm advises clients in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors around the world, including more than two-thirds of the Fortune 500 and is one of the ‘Big Three’ strategy consulting firms.
    The Alexander Partnership which is Europe’s leading provider of executive coaching, leadership and culture development.
    Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (AMV BBDO) is an advertising agency that works with over 85 brands, including BT, Sainsbury’s, Diageo, Walkers and Mars. AMV campaigns may incorporate digital, social, experiential, print or broadcast media. AMV is part of the BBDO network, the third largest agency network in the world and part of the Omnicom Group.
    Baker McKenzie, founded as Baker & McKenzie in 1949, is a multinational law firm. As of August 2017, it is ranked as the second-largest international law firm in the world by headcount with 13,000 employees including 6,076 fee earners and 4,700 lawyers on a full-time equivalent basis in 77 offices across 47 countries. It is also ranked as the second largest law firm in the world in terms of revenue with US$2.67 billion in annual revenue

    It’s all a very long way away from the social worker on the real frontline who goes into battle on a daily basis to support those who cannot even imagine ever attaining the resources, power and influence of those shaping their futures.

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