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Three-quarters of social workers oppose ‘power to innovate’ provisions

LAs should not be permitted to opt out of statutory duties to children and families

Over three-quarters of social workers recently polled by the British Association of Social Workers have expressed opposition to the 'power to innovate' clauses in the Children and Social Work Bill. 76% of those polled believe local authorities should not be permitted to opt out of some of their statutory duties to children and families in the name of 'innovation'. Just 16 per cent agreed with the Department for Education's (DfE) proposals for selective relief from meeting certain statutory provisions for children – which would be decided by the Department for Education, undermining the decades old cross-party parliamentary consensus on universal children's rights legislation.

Members were also asked what they thought successful innovation might involve and what is really needed to improve children's services. Almost 20 per cent of respondents wrote about the need for professional ownership of improvements and innovation. One social worker said: "What is needed is acceptance and valuing of social work, its professional status, and its values. The profession has always innovated, but has not been listened to."

The key word cited most in narrative responses was 'families'. In almost every case this was in reference to the importance of being able to work in partnership with families. Over a quarter of respondents (27 per cent) made reference to this. Almost a quarter of respondents (22 per cent) mentioned time, specifically the need for more of it in order to do their work properly.

Nine out of ten BASW England members responding to the survey said social work regulation should remain independent of Government. Social workers expressed major concerns about unprecedented state control of the profession, which remains a risk despite amendments to the regulation proposals in the Children and Social Work Bill.

The Children and Social Work Bill entered the Committee stage in the House of Commons on 13 December 2016. For the Bill, as brought from the House of Lords, click here. For progress of the Bill, click here.

For more details about the BASW survey, please click here.