BASW demands action on poverty and social care reform in letter to new Health Secretary

BASW writes to Sajid Javid as he replaces Matt Hancock in his new role as secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

29/06/21

BASW demands action on poverty and social care reform in letter to new Health Secretary

The letter from the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) aims to bring the new secretary’s attention to address the key issues facing social work.

The letter from BASW to Sajid Javid outlined some of the main areas which need action, including the wellbeing of social work staff, recognition of values and ethics, and tackling the causes of social work crisis intervention.

BASW emphasised the importance of social work, including the “vital role” social workers have for children, families, and adults in need, providing stability and wellbeing to the society, particularly throughout pandemic.

On the issue of staff wellbeing, the letter noted that social workers had been the “forgotten frontline” during COVID-19 and that the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the public, both mentally and physically, will be felt by social workers both on a personal level and professionally as their caseloads increase.

The letter also confirmed that BASW are joining the many organisations calling for an inquiry into the Government’s handling of COVID-19, supporting the call for a rapid review by COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice.

“Families and communities will feel the impact of the people we have lost for years to come. It is also important that a review is carried out so that we can plan for the future,” BASW said.

The letter also addresses the importance of tackling the causes of social work crisis intervention, highlighting the effects of poverty and homelessness. It emphasises that tackling food poverty should be a core ambition of local and national government, stating that the increase in the number of people using foodbanks is “a national scandal” and the causes of it should be a “policy priority”.

The letter also noted the “oppressive and unequal” system that social workers operate within, highlighting the importance that of politicians promoting, supporting, and legislating for the embedding of anti-oppressive and anti-racist standards and practice in all stages of education.

Also emphasised was the importance in putting social workers and people with lived experience at the heart of the Government’s decision making.

“When making policies, it is essential that those it directly impacts are involved in the development,” the letter states. “Local authorities should not be making decisions about people, without their input. Decision-makers should bring a broad range of voices to every table to prevent policies and approaches from excluding people.”

Maris Stratulis, National Director of BASW, England, and Dr Ruth Allen, BASW CEO said that despite other issues outlined in the letter, the main challenge the Government faces is social care reform.

“Small changes will only amount to a plaster that will not achieve the significant change that is needed,” they said, adding: “Reform will require not just significant funding and resource, but a genuine appetite for it. We hope that you will enthusiastically take up this challenge and give the people of this country the long-awaited reform that is so desperately needed.”

The previous Health Secretary Matt Hancock resigned from his role last week after being caught on camera having an affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo, breaking his own lockdown guidance.



Hancock said in his resignation letter the “last thing [he] would want is for [his] private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.”


Starting his new role, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid said he was “incredibly honoured” to take up the post, particularly given the important moment for the recovery from COVID-19.


“This position comes with a huge responsibility and I will do everything I can to deliver for the people of this great country.”

The British Medical Association said that Sajid Javid had “probably the most daunting in-tray that any secretary of state of health has ever inherited” as he takes over his new role from Matt Hancock.

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