Controversial Government social work proposal defeated

Published March 14, 2017 at 12:19

Dear Colleagues,

The Government’s flagship proposal in the Children and Social Work Bill, that would have allowed English councils to opt-out of some statutory duties designed to protect children, has been dropped following widespread opposition.

As originally drafted, the so-called ‘exemption clauses’ would have allowed councils in England to exempt themselves from a range of legal duties in relation to children’s social care.  The government argued that the move would have allowed “a local authority in England to test different ways of working, with a view to achieving better outcomes”.

UNISON argued that these measures would simply create a postcode lottery for the provision of children’s social services and would help to soften up the service for large scale levels of privatisation in the future.

A UNISON survey of 2,858 social workers revealed that over two thirds of respondents believed the government’s proposal to allow local authorities to exempt themselves from children’s social care legislation would lead to more children being placed at risk.  Less than 10% of social workers supported the proposals.  These views from frontline practitioners were vital in demonstrating just how reckless the Government’s proposals were. 

UNISON was also a member of the Together for Children coalition, which pulled together social work organisations, children’s charities and human rights groups to demonstrate the depth and breadth of opposition to the government’s plans.

After months of campaigning, including UNISON social worker members lobbying their MPs, the Government finally relented and abandoned the proposals.

This positive result demonstrates the value of UNISON members speaking out on behalf of good social work practice and good quality public services.

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