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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2011): Social care - UK

Authorities should think twice before cutting direct payment budgets

R. Trustam

Community Living, vol.10, no.2, 2010, p. 24-25

Cash-strapped local authorities are attempting to cut back on the costs of direct payment packages for vulnerable adults. This may be illegal, and is putting additional pressure on the mental and physical health of family carers. Those who represent the interests of service users have to be well informed to put up reasonable arguments against local authorities trying to cut back on budgets.

BASW - The College of Social Work is launched as convergence plan collapses


Professional Social Work, Feb. 2011, p. 6-8

The British Association of Social Workers has been relaunched as BASW-The College of Social Work after negotiations between BASW and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), which had been involved in a separate college initiative, collapsed. SCIE officials seconded to develop a college following a recommendation by the Social Work Taskforce in December 2009 struck a deal to work with Unison rather than building on the foundation of BASW.

Big fall in student placements at councils threatens careers

D. Lombard and K. McGregor

Community Care, Jan. 27th 2011, p. 4-5

A survey has revealed that placements for social work students in council settings were slashed by 11% in 2010. The fall in placements comes despite national requirements for all social work degree students to gain experience of statutory tasks involving legal interventions before qualifying. Local authorities blame spending cuts, increased demand for services and personalisation for the reductions.

Building a safe and confident future: one year on: progress report

Social Work Reform Board


The Board's first progress report sets out detailed plans for: 1) national standards for social work in England (under consultation); 2) employer standards, detailing support social workers should receive; 3) supervision guidelines, stating that social workers should receive at least 90 minutes of regular, uninterrupted supervision; 4) a tougher entry requirement for the social work degree; and 5) a continuing professional development framework for social workers.

(For summary and comment see Community Care, Jan. 13th 2011, p. 6-7; for detailed proposals see


Court rules that Pembrokeshire Council must recalculate the fees it pays to operators of independent care homes


Caring Times, Feb. 2011, p. 7

At the High Court in Cardiff, a judge said that the way the fees paid to care homes by the County Council in Pembrokeshire were worked out was unlawful. The judgement came at the end of a Judicial Review secured by care home owners who claimed that the council was guilty of chronically underpaying them. The judgement sets an important precedent for service users across Wales whose services may be at risk because of underpaying by their local authority.

The glue that binds

R. Jones

Professional Social Work, Feb. 2011, p. 18-20

One of the traditional strengths of social work has been the importance attached to supervision and team work. In multidisciplinary teams, social workers will be working with professionals who have traditionally promoted independence and autonomy. In this situation, social work's tradition of supervision may be eroded. This article reflects on the benefits of supervision for service users, practitioners, and the organisations they work for.

Good practice in assessing risk: current knowledge, issues and approaches

H. Kemshall and B. Wilkinson (editors)

London: J. Kingsley, 2011

Maintaining a balance between managing and assessing risk and upholding the required high standards of practice in health and social care can be demanding, particularly in the current climate of increased preoccupation with the difficult tensions between rights, protection and risk-taking. The book covers many aspects of risk assessment in a wide variety of health, social care and criminal justice settings including child protection, mental health, work with sex offenders and work with victims of domestic violence. The contributors discuss a range of key issues relating to risk including positive risk-taking, collaborating with victims and practitioners in the design of assessment tools, resilience to risk, and defensibility. The book also explores the role of bureaucracy in hindering high quality professional practice, complex decision-making in situations of stress or potential blame, and involving service users in assessment.

Personalisation under threat

J. Dunning

Community Care, Feb. 3rd 2011, p. 5

Social workers using the CareSpace online forum have warned that councils are cutting back on the amount that they give service users through personal budgets, and are restricting how they can spend it. These warnings, coupled with those of service user representatives who report personal budgets being cut by up to 40%, suggest that the government's desire to give service users more control over their lives is being undermined by falling public expenditure.

Public sector commissioning: experiences of voluntary organizations delivering health and social services

S. Martikke and C. Moxham

International Journal of Public Administration, vol.33, 2010, p. 790-799

Public sector bodies across the world are starting to use voluntary sector organisations to deliver their services. The findings from this study indicate that current practices used by UK health and social service commissioners can detract from the capacity of voluntary organisations to design, develop, deliver and improve public services. By drawing on a limited number of potential providers, limiting the input from voluntary organizations in service design, and stipulating narrow contract monitoring systems, the UK public sector may be jeopardising its ability to achieve its aim of providing improved public services.

Registration likely to start soon for large parts of the social care workforce

K. McGregor

Community Care, Feb. 3rd 2011, p. 7

The Health Professions Council is devising a national registration scheme for social care staff. The plans would require social care staff to meet minimum standards of training and conduct to remain on the register and to continue in practise. The register is also likely to be opened to social work students on a voluntary basis.

Relationships versus managerialism

S. Rogowski

Professional Social Work, Feb. 2011, p. 24-25

This article considers the bureaucratic constraints under which many social workers are forced to operate, and how retaining a clear sense of the primacy of relationship-based social work can erode the power of managerialism , in the process giving social workers more control over their profession.

The results business

G. Carson

Community Care, Jan. 27th 2011, p. 24-25

Payment by results (PbR) has determined the funding of hospitals in England for ten years, but the health secretary is now looking at extending it to other services, including, potentially, adult social care. Ministers believe that paying providers according to what they achieve will offer incentives for improvement. However, there are challenges in implementing payment by results in areas where service outcomes are not clear cut.

Services and jobs slashed as councils cut grants to voluntary sector

V. Pitt

Community Care, Jan. 13th 2011, p. 4-5

A survey of 119 adult care and children's charities found that two-thirds had seen their total funding from councils cut and 41% had shed staff in 2010/11. Respondents expected the situation to worsen in 2011/12, with 89% anticipating reductions in their overall funding and 82% predicting job cuts. The poll also revealed a deep mistrust of the coalition government's Big Society initiative, with more than twice as many people believing it to be a cover for cuts than those who did not.

A tale of two charities

V. Pitt

Community Care, Jan. 13th 2011, p. 22-23

This article presents case studies of how two social care charities are coping with cuts in funding from local authorities. The Alzheimer's Society is a large national charity, while the Little Red Bus Company provides community transport services in North Yorkshire.

Towards better supervision

K. McGregor

Community Care, Jan. 27th 2011, p. 30-32

The Social Work Reform Board is now implementing a national framework for supervision in England. It stipulates that supervision sessions should last for at least 90 minutes. They should be weekly for the first six weeks of employment for a newly qualified social worker, fortnightly for the next six months, and at least monthly after that. All practitioners should be supervised by another registered social worker, including those whose line managers are not social workers. This article looks at the implications of the new framework for practitioners and managers.

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