So the Task Force report yesterday was pretty much as predicted. Personally, I think a lot of the contents are very welcome with the main concern being the lack of money to implement them – but I’m willing to engage positively with the process of change in the hope that some of the issues that we have been complaining about in social care will change – it’s that old chestnut – the triumph of hope over expectation but leave me in my ‘happy place’ however briefly!
I thought it was interesting to consider how some of the press reported on the publication of the Task Force report which in it’s full glory can be found here. I was about to print it out at work to read later when I realised it was 71 pages and thought that was a bit much – more trees saved.
The Independent focuses on the tagline of ‘better pay’ for social workers but no money to fund it – which is the crux of the problem really. Similarly, the Times also looks at the ‘elephant in the room’ – namely funding for the additional money that might be spent to implement the recommended changes. The comments though are a little disheartening. There seems to be a perception that anyone with a bit of ‘common sense’ and ‘life experience’ can be an effective social worker. I think there is so little understanding of the importance of training that it is almost frightening.
The Daily Mail meanwhile go for a whiny
‘Social Workers to be given pay RISES in the wake of the Baby P scandal’ which is a disgustingly ignorant headline. Their capitals by the way. It is a plain misrepresentation which panders to their insufferable readers. The comments are enough to make my stomach churn. I would love that reporter to come to my office to see the work we do on a day to day basis.
The Sun’s agony aunt, Deirdre Sanders who actually sat on the Taskforce tells her readers
She seems to put things in patronisingly simplistic terms but it gets the general message across although I think that relating all the changes to a single child’s tragic death is not entirely a fair explanation of the scope of the work done. There is a generalised thought lingering in my mind that there should be a wider understanding of what we do as social workers in adult and mental health services rather than the focus solely on child protection issues as the Task Force was to concentrate on social work as a profession rather than one aspect of it.
Meanwhile on the safer arms of the pages of the Guardian, there are a number of articles addressing different parts of the report. From the details of the report to opinions by Peter Beresford who discusses the long term commitment needed across the political board for the reform process to Ray Jones who writes in praise of the taskforce – although not without a well-aimed kick towards Ed Balls (and quite rightly in my opinion) who
followed through on the tabloid-generated victimisation of social work and social workers by himself vilifying those who gave their professional lives to protecting children. Not surprisingly there were then major problems in recruiting and retaining social workers, and the workloads for those who stayed increased. Who wants a job where, when a tragedy occurs and the going gets really tough, you and your family are hounded by the paparazzi and hung out to dry by politicians?
I was applauding in my chair as I read that!
Community Care, a magazine aimed specifically at those in the social care sector in the UK, unsurprisingly has a lot more in-depth coverage – from their own discussion of the main components to reactions from ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) and ADCS (Association of Directors of Childrens Services) which understanding question where the money is going to come from to their own views (via the Group Editor, Bronagh Miskelly’s blog).
Personally, I think the issues around training and recruitment are far more important than the pay issue but I accept it’s because I’m not unhappy with my salary – although more is always good..
One of my favourite (and I mean that in an ironic way) quotes comes from the Independent piece where Tim Loughton, the Conservative shadow children’s minister says
“The task force makes some sensible suggestions for improving social work and child protection, many of which we proposed some time ago.
“Ultimately the success of these proposals must be judged on whether they improve conditions on the front line. This Government has strangled social work with 12 years of bureaucracy – it is important that it now acts to improve the situation.”
Sorry, but a Conservative shadow minister saying the government has strangled social work with bureaucracy? Shows very little understanding of the last Conservative administration… and the one before that, and the one before that.
I am no fan of the government and couldn’t despite Balls any more than I do at the moment but the Conservatives are hardly speaking from a position of authority after seeing what they did with and to the profession.
But in general, I am left with a warm buzz of excitement that changes might be implemented to benefit the profession and most importantly those who use the services provided by social workers in the future.