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Social Work Task Force

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

With my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Children, Schools and Families, and Business, Innovation and Skills, I am publishing today “Building a Safe and Confident Future: Implementing the Recommendations of the Social Work Task Force”. In December 2009, the social work taskforce made 15 focused recommendations for the fundamental reform of the system that supports social workers in England. This publication sets out how the Government are working with employers, higher education institutions, the profession itself and people who use social work services to put those recommendations into effect.

Every day high-quality social work makes a big difference, not only to the safety, prospects and life chances of individuals, but also to the stability and equality of our society. It is therefore essential that the right support and systems are in place to enable social workers to practise to the highest professional standards.

“Building a Safe and Confident Future” sets out a route map for how the taskforce’s recommendations will be achieved over the next five to 10 years. Some of the changes recommended by the taskforce can and must make a difference immediately. Other taskforce recommendations will require extensive consultation and require time to put in place. “Building a Safe and Confident Future” sets out the anticipated time scales for implementing all of these recommendations, including:

work already under way in establishing the independent College of Social Work with the recruitment process for an interim chair to begin this month and the expectation that the college will be a fully functioning independent organisation by April 2011;

the expectation that over the coming year all social worker employers will work with their staff to conduct a local “health check” of the support they have in place, and to take action for improvement where necessary;

improvements to initial social worker education with strengthened entry requirements to the social work degree;

reviews of the degree curriculum, bursary arrangement and the quality and quantity of practice placements, and more transparent and improved regulation of higher education providers;

consultation and assessment of options and impact for the introduction of the recommended assessed year in employment and licence to practise; and

consultation on a new framework for continuing professional development in social work beginning in summer 2010 with the framework to be phased in from 2011.

The reform programme will require sustained commitment from all partners over a number of years. To establish the firmest possible foundation for this, “Building a Safe and Confident Future” is accompanied by a commitment to Government investment of more than £200 million in 2010-11. This investment is additional to core funding for social work in higher education, local government and the NHS. It will be used to support recruitment, student bursaries and practice placements, work force development, improvement of IT in children’s services and supporting employers to remodel services.

In recognition of particular pressures on local authority children’s services, £23 million of Government’s £200 million investment in social work next year will go directly to LAs to put in place local solutions which help to reduce pressure on front-line social workers and will build capacity for reform and improvement. Local authorities will be expected to consult with social workers and local safeguarding partners in deciding how to use it. This will be accompanied by a £15 million capital grant from DCSF to local authorities for the improvement of information technology systems, including the Integrated Children’s System.

We are placing a copy of “Building a Safe and Confident Future: Implementing the Recommendations of the Social Work Task Force” in the Library and copies are available for hon. Members from the Vote Office.