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Student Grants

Volume 931: debated on Monday 9 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied that the provision of grants for students qualifying in the social sciences is sufficient, having regard to the increasing and widening responsibilities and demands of his Department, calling for an increase in the number of specialised social workers; and if he will make a statement.

About 40 per cent. of field social workers hold a professional social work qualification and in residential and day services the percentage is much smaller. I am anxious to see an increase in the percentage of qualified staff, but in the present economic circumstances progress must be slower than I would wish. I have however been able to allocate a further £500,000 from my Department's budget this year, to increase by about 300 the number of grants the Department will make to graduate students accepted on courses leading to the certificate of qualification in social work. I hope that, despite the difficulties with which they are faced, local authorities in England and Wales will be able to avoid a reduction in the number of non-graduate students they support this year and will increase their support in the future as their resources may allow.