Wednesday 4 FEBRUARY 2009
Tories could deal with social worker crisis themselves.
UNISON, the UK's largest public service union, representing
300,000 social care workers including 40,000 social workers,
today (4 February) called on the Tories to stop whingeing about
social work shortages when they could take action to deal with
the problem in many cases.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary said: "Last week UNISON
described the shortage of social workers as a "ticking time
bomb" and called on councils to take urgent action. It's a bit
rich for the Tories to start whingeing about the crisis in recruiting
and retaining social workers when they run most councils in
England and some in Scotland. The answer to the problem lies
in their hands. They could start by paying more to recruit and
retain social workers and other key council staff if they had
the political will to do so. Why don't they just get on with
the job and stop wasting public funds asking their friends in
local government for answers to questions they should already
In England and Wales the Tories run 216 councils, 104 are No
Overall Control, 48 Labour, 27 Lib Dem and 8 Independent. That
means the Tories run 54% and are often the largest group on
the NOC ones. They also Chair the Local Government Association.
In Scotland the Tories run 2 councils, are partners in 6 more
and give support to the administration in a further 5.
Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON's Scottish Social Work Issues
group will tell the Scottish parliament's Education, Lifelong
Learning and Culture committee today that the pressures in Scotland
are also high. "Councils in Scotland are the bodies responsible
for recruiting and retaining social workers. Parties in control
of those councils need to take action to deal with the problems
of social work staffing and resources - especially in the children
and families service."
UNISON has produced an eight-point plan aimed at tacking the
crisis in child protection in Scotland.
UNISON’s eight-point plan: (reflecting the position in Scotland)
Co-working on all child protection investigation visits:
child protection investigation visits to be done by two practitioners.
More social workers and support staff: an urgent action
plan to fill vacancies and to review staffing levels across
all social work teams.
National caseload management standards: enforced through
the inspection process and regularly audited by the council
leadership, with sanctions against employers who breach the
Scottish Social Services Council’s Code of Practice for Social
More resources: a planned programme of investment in
children and families’ social work.
Cull of bureaucracy: a root and branch zero-based review
of all bureaucracy.
To increase the responsiveness of and resources to the widely
respected Children’s Panel system: creating a system which
ensures that social workers can service it properly and that
the resources are in place to allow its decisions to be implemented.
Better support and more reflective practice: Social
workers should have at least two years post-qualifying experience
before being allocated child protection cases. There should
be consistent, high quality supervision that is both supportive
Measures to rebuild morale, confidence and status of social
workers: redress the devastating impact on morale through
re-instigating the campaign run by the previous Scottish Executive
to promote positive public awareness about what social work
For Further Information Please Contact: Mandy McDowall
(Regional Officer) 07903 846 427(m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m) For information on the position across
the UK contact: Mary Maguire – Head of Press and Broadcasting
-07771 548 957 Anne Mitchell – Press Officer – 07887 945 307