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Social Work

Volume 707: debated on Monday 26 January 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The 2020 Children and Young People’s Workforce Strategy, published last month, set out our ambition for significant reform in social work to be supported by a social work taskforce. Today we are announcing the full membership and remit for this taskforce.

The social work taskforce will undertake a nuts and bolts review of frontline social work practice and make recommendations for immediate improvements to practice and training as well as long-term change in social work. It will report to both the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and to the Secretary of State for Health.

Social workers carry out highly challenging work, often in extremely difficult circumstances. They have a vital role in protecting children and young people from harm and in supporting adults. Enabling social workers to deliver consistent high-quality practice and services is a key priority for this Government. Our ambition is for social work to be a high-quality, self-confident profession, with the support and esteem of the public.

The taskforce builds on the Government’s significant investment in the workforce over the past 10 years. It also builds on the current investment of over £73 million to improve social work training, induction, practice and recruitment.

The taskforce will be chaired by Moira Gibb, chief executive of Camden Council. Andrew Webb, director of children's services, Stockport, and Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children's Society, will be the deputy chairs. The taskforce will be small and action-focused. It will include individuals with a range of backgrounds and experiences including service users’ perspectives, frontline social workers, social work leaders and academics. The taskforce will meet for the first time in early February 2009 and will publish findings in summer 2009.

The taskforce will root its work in a thorough review of evidence and will build on Lord Laming’s review of safeguarding. It will be crucial that the taskforce listens carefully to the experiences, needs and views of frontline social workers and service users. The taskforce will look at all of the factors that impact on frontline social work practice including a survey of workloads and pressures facing social workers. We have asked the taskforce, as an early priority, to look specifically at the integrated children’s system including how it helps to deliver quality support to children and families, procurement and IT issues, how well social workers are supported to use the system and its impact on social workers’ workloads.

The taskforce will also engage closely with stakeholders including delivery partners, social work employers, unions, providers of social work training and academics to identify the key issues affecting social work practice and to ensure that the taskforce’s recommendations will secure excellent frontline practice. It will work in close partnership with the key organisations delivering improvements in social work, including the Children’s Workforce Development Council, the General Social Care Council and Skills for Care.

We are very grateful to the people listed below for agreeing to be members of the taskforce and contributing to this important work.


Moira Gibb, CBE, Chief Executive, Camden Borough Council.

Deputy Chairs

Andrew Webb, Corporate Director, Children and Young People, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council; and

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive, the Children’s Society


Celia Atherton OBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Research in Practice;

Anne Beales, Director of Service User Involvement, Together—Working for Wellbeing;

Kim Bromley-Derry, Director of Children’s Services, Newham;

Sue Butcher, Head of Children and Young People’s Services, Gloucestershire;

Richard Jones, Director of Adult Services, Lancashire;

Diane Mallett, Senior Social Work Practitioner, Barnsley Adult Social Services;

Helga Pile, National Officer for Social Care, Unison;

James Riley, Director of Adult Services, Hammersmith and Fulham;

Bridget Robb, Professional Officer, British Association of Social Workers;

Deidre Sanders, Agony Aunt: The Sun;

Professor Sue White, Professor of Social Work, Lancaster University;

Neil Wragg MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Youth at Risk; and

Maxine Wrigley MBE, National Co-ordinator, Voice.

I am placing in the House Library copies of the list of the full membership and the remit for the social work taskforce.