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BASW launches manifesto for social work ahead of upcoming election

The sector’s professional association has identified key areas of concern for political parties ahead of a General Election which is expected to be called this year.

27/03/24

BASW launches manifesto for social work ahead of upcoming election

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) launched a manifesto this week calling for the next government to better support, resource and value the social work profession.

“In the last five years we’ve seen direction changes, new plans, refreshed visions and bold proclamations which have still left us with growing poverty, a shrinking life expectancy for the most disadvantaged in the country, and uncertainty for social work and the people we work with,” Julia Ross, Chair of BASW UK said releasing the manifesto, adding: “It is time to get it right. Social workers, and the people they support, cannot wait any longer.”

The manifesto outlines 40 definitive policy actions of any new government that BASW says is “ambitious, but necessary” to take forward after the election. Entitled ‘It’s Time to Get It Right’ the manifesto argues that politicians from all parties must ‘hit the ground running’ in the next parliament if it is to improve social work and social care, working conditions, and people's lives.

The document contains key asks to better support the social work profession specifically, such as a review into caseloads, reforming student bursary support, and increasing mileage allowance payments. It also covers a range of wider issues which affect social workers and the people they work with, such as tackling poverty and protecting human rights, to scrapping harmful anti-immigration laws, reforming mental health legislation and better funding children’s social care.

The manifesto also has a focus on care-experience, particularly in its support for making it a protected characteristic and voicing its backing for the #KeepCaringto18 campaign, referring to the Department for Education’s ban on the use of unregulated accommodation for children in care who were 15 or younger – which many in the sector believe should have been extended to all children under 18.

BASW UK Chair Julia Ross said the organisation will be urging all political parties over the coming months to adopt its policies as their own and, crucially, will be holding them to account in the next parliament to ensure they get delivered.

“The next General Election will be an election for change. Whatever the result, the UK Parliament will be invigorated with a fresh mandate and way of thinking.

“BASW is determined to use this opportunity, and our influence, to drive much-needed change and improvements in areas that are important to our members, the social work profession and people with lived experience of social work and social care services.

“This manifesto will be the lynchpin for our campaigning. It presents key actions that the next UK Government, of whatever persuasion, can take to improve social work and social care, working conditions, and the lives of the most disadvantaged in Britain today.”

Social work training organisation Think Ahead welcomed the spotlight on the issues, saying: “Great to see BASW UK's manifesto. Reviewing Social Work bursaries, replacing the outdated Mental Health Act & boosting social care funding must be a priority for any incoming government.”

The manifesto was created through a combination of BASW and Social Workers Union’s (SWU) pre-existing campaigning and influencing work, feedback from members and people with lived experience and findings from our annual social work surveys.

SWU General Secretary, John McGowan said the present government has “absolutely broken this country and you can see it everywhere you look.”

“We have all seen it. We have all experienced it first hand, whether it is our public services that have been decimated, waiting for a GP’s appointment, Dentist or waiting for an ambulance.

“Equally, we can all see what is happening in our social work services and a real crisis in social work recruitment and retention and jobs that do not pay enough. It is therefore important to scrutinise what all political parties are saying regarding social care and social work investment as politicians would appear to want it both ways.

“They want social workers to intervene more swiftly in situations where children and adults need to be safeguarded from abuse and neglect, but the fact is that the long-standing programme of austerity is both increasing demand and limiting the response opportunities.”

Whilst this is a UK-wide election, the manifesto acknowledges that many social work issues are devolved. It is therefore divided into four parts to clearly identify and explain what areas affect the whole of the UK, or specific nations only. Each nation also has their own version.

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