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Date: 25 June 2009

Scottish social care workers come together to issue ten-point plan to rescue social work

The two organisations representing social care staff in Scotland today published a joint manifesto in Glasgow containing ten demands that need to be addressed to resolve key problems affecting social work in Scotland.

Social care staff trade union, UNISON and social work professional body - the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) have issued the manifesto - entitled Helping People Change their Lives - after a series of surveys indicating that severe staffing shortages continue in the sector.

At the launch in Glasgow, Stephen Smellie, chair of UNISONScotland’s Social Work Issues Group (SWIG), said:

"As UNISON’s survey of staffing revealed last week, the problems of social work stem from an increase in demand across the whole range of services; and increase that is not matched by any corresponding increase in resources.

"This is leading to increasing stress and burnout in dedicated and enthusiastic staff. If this is not addressed we could be seeing more tragic stories like Brandon Muir and Baby P."

The union survey was yesterday backed up by official government staffing statistics, which also revealed overall vacancy levels running at around 7% in Scotland. This is similar to UNISON’s findings, but the union also points to councils that have much higher numbers of vacancies. In Scottish Borders, almost a quarter (24.06%) of social work posts are vacant. This is followed by Inverclyde (20.8%), West Dunbartonshire (19.6%), Falkirk (15%), Highland (13.1%) and West Lothian (12%).

Hilton Dawson, Chief Executive of BASW, also backed the demands in the manifesto:

"No government or local authority which seriously purports to serve people well can do so without the aid of well qualified, skilled and experienced social workers." He said, "It is now time that politicians of all parties and policy makers across all agencies recognise the value of our work.

"It is now time for Social Workers to stand up for Social Work and campaign for nothing less than the fundamental transformation of the standing and status of our profession."

Both organisations will now be raising the ten points with employers and politicians, demanding that they each be addressed so that staff can maintain and surpass the high standards they set themselves.



Notes for editors:

1) the manifesto is available from the UNISONScotland website - www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork/index.html

2) The ten points it wants addressed are:

- Introduction of effective workload management
- Reduction in meaningless bureaucracy
- Guideline for appropriate staffing levels
- Access to good quality support and supervision
- Ensuring employers are accountable to staff and service users
- Providing an effective reporting mechanism for problems
- A clear career path allowing experienced practitioners to remain in practice
- A universal service as ‘accessible as the NHS’ with welcoming buildings
- Social work professionals being able to practice their skills in the community
- An end to cuts and threats to budgets.