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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2001): Social Care - UK

ACT IN THE HUMAN INTEREST

I. Adamson

Charity Finance, Oct. 2001, p. 38-39

Discusses the impact of the Human Rights Act on social care and social housing charities. Whether or not they are subject to the Act turns on whether or not they are performing "functions of a public nature" and are therefore "functional public authorities".

COURTING DISASTER

N. Valios

Community Care, no. 1389, 2001, p. 18-19

Local authority social care staff have hitherto enjoyed immunity from negligence claims because they have been deemed not to have a duty of care to individual children. Recent rulings by the European Court of Human Rights have challenged the principle, leading to fears that social services departments will face an avalanche of litigation.

DOUBLE TROUBLES

J. Traynor

Health Service Journal, vol. 111, Oct 11th 2001, p. 10-11

Demand for health and social services in Northern Ireland is outstripping supply, and the system is running out of cash. Trusts and services are in danger of collapse without an immediate injection of funds.

EXCLUSION ZONE

R. Downey

Community Care, Sept. 27th-Oct. 3rd 2001, p. 28-33

Instead of using social workers' expertise to tackle social exclusion, government has pursued a "top down" managerial approach with a host of new centrally planned schemes, initiatives and programmes. These have not reached out to people with mental health problems and learning difficulties, ethnic minority groups, older people, carers and alcohol and drug misusers, etc. These groups remain excluded, while social workers, through lack of government support, are demoralised by overwork, poor pay, lack of resources and the prevalence of a blame culture, and have become estranged from their local communities.

(See also Community Care, Sept. 27th-Oct. 3rd 2001, p. 6, 18-19)

EXTERNAL INSPECTION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT: DRIVING IMPROVEMENT OR DROWNING IN DETAIL?

H. David, J. Downe and S. Martin

York Publishing, 2001

Social services inspection has moved from a largely advisory role to one of fault finding. This is partly due to the managerial regime of the Social Services Inspectorate which replaced its professionally dominated predecessor, the Department of Social Security's Social Work Service. There is pressure within the Inspectorate to "focus on quantitative performance measures and the pursuit of economy, efficiency and effectiveness". Argues that external inspections would be more effective if they co-ordinated activities, used common frameworks and proposed measures to increase the capacity of poor performers. Recommends that inspection regimes should reflect local as well as national priorities and encourage innovation and appropriate risk taking.

FOUR WARNED

A. Moore

Health Service Journal, vol. 111, Sept. 27th 2001, p. 11-12

Discusses the role of the four directors of health and social care in England who will take up their posts on April 1st 2003 on the abolition of the NHS regional offices.

IS NEWHAM OFF TARGET?

A. U. Sale

Community Care, no. 1390, 2001, p. 14

The London Borough of Newham is introducing performance related pay for its social workers in an attempt to improve staff recruitment and retention.

MILBURN TO TARGET POORLY PERFORMING SOCIAL SERVICES

J. Carvel

Guardian, Oct. 20th 2001, p. 17

The Secretary of State for Health has announced that the 150 local authority social services departments in England will be graded with star ratings in 2002, similar to those already in use for hospitals. In future poorly performing authorities will be put on "special measures", asked to draw up an action plan and be subject to regular monitoring by the Social Services Inspectorate. They may be asked to call in expertise from the private and voluntary sectors to help them improve. On the other hand successful departments will be rewarded with less frequent inspections, more discretion over spending government grants, and freedom to offer staff bonuses and develop new services.

(See also Independent, Oct. 20th 2001, p. 12; Times, Oct. 20th 2001, p. 22)

NET GAINS

D. Poulson

Community Care, no. 1389, 2001, p. 24-25

Describes the development of an internet based information system for care workers under the EU funded Discus project.

PARTY POLITICS

L. Revans

Community Care, Sept. 27th-Oct. 3rd 2001, p. 34-35

Describes preparations for the launch of the first wave of pilot care trusts in 2002. These bodies are being introduced under the Health and Social Care Act 2001 to integrate the commissioning of health and social care in a single body.

SOCIAL EXCLUSION: WAITING IN THE WINGS

L. Harker

Community Care, Oct. 4th-10th 2001, p. 40-41

The success of the government's fight against social exclusion depends on the presence of respected and inspiring local leaders who have energy, vision and local support. Social work practitioners, who are in direct and constant contact with socially excluded people, could have a key role.

STAND BY ME

T. and D. Brandon

Community Care, no. 1390, 2001, p. 26

Discusses the tensions social workers experience in their role as advocates for clients. Fundamental is the tension between doing "what is best" for the client and doing what he or she asks to be done. Organisations also have their own interests to protect, which may in practice seem more important than the interests of clients.

SYSTEM OVERLOAD

R. Winchester

Community Care, Oct. 4th-10th 2001, p. 28-30

Social workers are caught in a downward spiral of chronic staff shortages and lack of resources, leading to strain and illness as they crack under the pressure.

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