Social Work Recap: regulation of care leaver accommodation and legal action over children in hotels

Our review of the week in social work

Picture of a man reading his newspaper with the logo 'Social Work Recap' on top
Photo: sebra / AdobeStock Edits: CommunityCare

How well do you feel social workers from overseas are supported to work in the UK?

  • Badly (48%, 270 Votes)
  • There is support in place but there is also room for improvement (40%, 225 Votes)
  • Very well (12%, 70 Votes)

Total Voters: 565

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Social Work Recap is a weekly series where we present key news, events, conversations, tweets and campaigns around social work from the preceding week.

From a council scrapping care charges for its disabled residents and potential strikes by Care Quality Commission staff to a call for the regulation of care leaver accommodation, here’s this week’s line-up:

Killing of 18-year-old prompts call to regulate care leaver settings

Photo: Metropolitan Police/ Wolfilser/ AdobeStock

The killing of an 18-year-old care leaver living in unregulated accommodation has led to a call for such settings to be regulated.

Lance Scott Walker was killed outside his accommodation in 2016 by fellow resident Idris Hassan, who had been categorised as being at high risk of hurting himself and others. Both boys had been under the care of their local councils before being housed in the same setting.

Six years later, an inquest jury found that that the councils’ commissioning of the unregulated accommodation was “inappropriate” and lacked oversight, probably contributing to Lance’s death. The jury also found that the “improper” number, training, experience, and formal qualifications of staff at the accommodation was a possible contributory factor.

On the back of the verdict, the coroner in Lance’s inquest has written a report to ministers warning that there is “a risk future deaths could occur unless action is taken”. She has specifically called for the regulation of care leaver accommodation, which will come into force next month for 16- and 17-year-olds, to be extended to up to 21-year-olds.

“A set of minimum requirements to introduce clear guidance across the sector would benefit the residents, the providers and all stakeholders in this particularly challenging sector,” the coroner wrote in her notes.

You can learn more about the inquest’s findings here.

Charity threatens ministers with legal action over children in hotels


Photo: Feng Yu/AdobeStock

A children’s rights charity has threatened legal action against the Home Office and the Department for Education over placing unaccompanied children in hotels.

Article 39 accused the government of denying unaccompanied asylum-seeking children the “fundamental protections” of the child welfare system, adding that, since July 2021, children housed in hotels had gone missing on 440 separate occasions.

It also announced that it was applying to the High Court for ‘wardship’ in respect of the 76 children who remained missing from a Brighton hotel the Home Office is using.

If approved, this would bring the children under the protection of the court, which would monitor actions taken by the government and others to protect them.

Article 39 is one of various charities and organisations criticising the government over its handling of unaccompanied children. Many have also united against the recently published Illegal Migration Bill, warning that it “runs roughshod over children’s rights” and “profoundly undermines” the Children Act 1989.

Council praised for scrapping care charges for disabled people

disabled adult

Photo: Halfpoint/AdobeStock

Tower Hamlets council has been praised by disabled people’s organisations for its decision to abolish all charges for community-based care and support services.

The local authority, only the second in England to take this step, currently provides community-based support to more than 2,600 people, of whom half have to contribute towards the cost of their care.

Scrapping charges is likely to cost Tower Hamlets more than £2.4m a year.

You can learn more about the council’s decision here.

Cafcass ends case prioritisation in four more areas

Image of book marked 'family court' and judge's gavel (credit: Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Adobe Stock)

(credit: Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Adobe Stock)

Cafcass has ended its policy of prioritising cases for allocation to family court advisers (FCAs) in four more family court areas.

Since 2021, the organisation has, in some areas, held lower-priority cases in an allocation hub, under the oversight of a practice supervisor, until they could be allocated to an FCA, in order to manage demand.

From now on, cases will no longer be held in allocation hubs in Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Northampton.

Cafcass is also trying to deactivate the prioritisation protocol in the three remaining areas in which it applies – Greater Manchester, Essex and Suffolk/Norfolk.

You can learn more about the protocol here.

Care Quality Commission staff vote to strike


Photo: Markus Mainka/Fotolia

UNISON members working for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have voted to strike over this year’s pay deal.

For 2022-23, CQC workers were given a rise of 2.75% to 3.5% with an additional one-off payment of £100 or £150, depending on their grade.

Of more than 700 workers balloted by UNISON, 73% supported a strike and 92% backed action short of a strike, which would mean that staff would only work to their contracts, refusing to do overtime.

The results of strike ballots by other unions represented at the CQC are awaited.

“Despite doing incredibly important work, staff have endured mounting financial hardship and watched as colleagues have departed for better paid work elsewhere. It’s not hard to see why so many have voted to strike,” said UNISON national officer Matthew Egan.

UNISON is also balloting its social worker members to gauge reactions on taking strike action after rejecting councils’ £1,925 pay offer for 2023-24.

Event: anti-racist practice conference

British Association of Social Workers (BASW) anti-racism lead Shantel Thomas has announced a free national one-day anti-racism conference will take place on 25 April.

The event, aimed at strategic leaders and managers “committed to anti-racist social work practice”, will be held at the University of London and contain a range of workshops and panels.

To register interest, contact Thomas at – places are limited, so be quick!

For more information, click here.

 Must watch: tips for NQSWs

In case you’ve missed it, we have launched a series on Instagram providing tips for students and newly qualified social workers (NQSWs).

In this series of videos, we have gathered seasoned social workers, managers and even children’s directors and asked them to share a piece of advice for anyone starting their career in the profession.

In our pilot reel, a social worker we interviewed during Community Care Live 2022 reflects on her own time as an NQSW, sharing that the key is to try to “speak your mind” and “take the time to reflect”.

Tweet of the week

Patron of the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers and care-experienced activist Ben Ashcroft shared an important piece of advice last week about building relationships with children in care.


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