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Date Weds 10 May 2006

Don't water down social work report recommendations says UNISON

UNISON, the union that represents Scotland's 30,000 Social Work staff today called on the Scottish executive to fully fund and implement the recommendations of Changing Lives - the report of the 21 Century Social Work Review - and to avoid the ‘blame culture' when things go wrong.

The union's General Secretary, Dave Prentis told a conference of the Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW) in Crieff today (10 May) that UNISON supported the Review and the Executive's initial response, but was concerned that later comments by senior politicians had seemed to go back to ‘knee-jerk' reactions.

Dave Prentis said: "We particularly welcomed the Executive's commitment to additionally fund the change process in Social Work, and await the second stage of their response with the details of this funding. We are concerned that sufficient funds are made available to ensure that social workers are freed up to do the jobs they were employed to do rather than drowning in paperwork. Funding should also be available to ensure that the new ‘paraprofessional' social worker' is not just social work on the cheap, but is part of a well-trained, highly-skilled workforce.”

UNISON is also concerned that - despite recommendations from the report to avoid ‘blame culture', senior ministers lapsed into blaming social workers for high profile incidents before investigations.

Dave Prentis said "We were disappointed to hear the First Minister's knee jerk reaction to an incident, just two weeks after the report was launched. This attitude is unacceptable and has to be challenged by all of us.” The union went on to call for the assistance of ADSW in tackling violent attacks on social workers.

Dave said "The patchy responses UNISON is getting to its requests for information on assaults is concerning. We need your support as managers to develop reporting systems, encouraging the use of risk assessments and introducing safeguards for staff. After all, you have a duty of care to our members.”

Dave also welcomed the announcement by Home Office Minister Tony McNulty that children of asylum seekers should have the same rights as other children under Scots law.

"Whilst we are still concerned that children will be deported.” Dave said, " It is a small victory that they should have a professional to safeguard their interests, and that their welfare should be paramount ,and one that UNISON has contributed directly to in making representations to the Executive.”


Note for editors: Changing Lives - the report of the 21 Century Social Work Review is available on the web at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/91931/0021949.pdf. UNISON had a number of representatives on some of the sub-groups.

For Further Information Please Contact: Mike Kirby (Scottish Convenor) 07803 952 261 (m) Stephen Smellie (Chair - Social Work Issues group) 07740 096 864(m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

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