Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 December 2008

Comment: overworked, underpaid, undervalued

Social workers demand proper resources

I agree with the comments of the social worker in issue 557 of The Socialist ('Social workers say: Investment needed'). However, I feel that a number of further issues need airing, particularly with regard to this New Labour government's attitude to child protection in light of the horrific death of 'baby P'.

A south Wales social worker

As a social worker, with over ten years experience in childcare and child protection, I would like to draw attention to changes brought about in public law proceedings and other polices that have had a detrimental effect on child protection.

On 1 April 2008 New Labour introduced the Public Law Outline (PLO), a Ministry of Justice publication with the snappy title: The Public Law Outline - guide to case management in public law proceedings.

One of the clearly stated objectives of the PLO is saving money. This is to be achieved in a number of ways, including changes to the pre-proceedings (preparation for court) requirements of local authorities (LAs). Clearly the intention is to reduce the amount of applications for care and supervision orders (court actions to protect children). Basically this means that social workers and LAs have to jump through many more hoops to get an order.

The changes through the introduction of the PLO mean that, in all but single issue cases, the LA is forced to engage in a long period of investigation. This has significant implications for LAs in terms of resources and cost. The consequences of the PLO are that LAs have been reluctant to take a case to court unless they are very confident of success.

According to the Observer, social workers considered taking baby P into care twice, but were advised the case did not meet the requirements for court action. In other words, social workers' ability to protect children has been undermined by government policy.

Since baby P's death, applications to court to protect children have increased significantly according to the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service.

Agency workers

Child care teams are overworked, underpaid and undervalued. In inner cities social work teams are staffed by a high percentage of agency workers (which LAs pay an arm and a leg for) and there is a large number of vacancies.

Often there are not enough social workers to cover child protection cases. According to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) some inner London boroughs have 40% vacancy rates for child care professionals. The emphasis is placed on hitting performance indicators set by Westminster, and in our case the Welsh Assembly.

Social workers have to complete assessments within a given timescale. Their performance is monitored by the Integrated Children's System (computer software). Local authority managers dance to the tune of Westminster and the Assembly and put pressure on social workers to hit targets that have very little to do with protecting children.

Little emphasis is placed on the quality of work. If it is, then management want to have their cake and to eat it. Something has to give when social workers are under so much pressure and it is usually quality, despite our best efforts. In order to hit the performance indicators, the ESRC found that many social workers were spending 60-80% of their time in front of a computer.

The New Labour government is considering privatising the 'looked after' children's system (children in care). The Care Matters white paper summary concludes that: "The private sector has much to offer children in care." This government is incapable of protecting children.

In 2006 Polly Toynbee reported on a venture capital investment offer from a company called Valley Care. "They had bought twelve houses as homes for three children each, at £150,000 per property. The prospectus said the children each brought with them a fee of between £3,000 and £6,500 a week. Staff would be paid just £12-15,000 a year - not highly qualified. So each home would make between £150,000 and £300,000 profit a year: the worse the children, the higher the profit." New Labour would rather line the pockets of their big business friends than properly finance protecting children.

It would take a fraction of what was spent propping up the banks to properly resource LAs to protect children. Social workers demand the resources to do the job.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 3 December 2008:

Job losses

Fight back now against job cuts

Woolworths jobs threat

Fighting the threatened closure of Hoover factory

Environment and socialism

Our planet not their profit

Socialist Party editorial

India and Pakistan conflict

Terror mayhem strikes Mumbai

Socialist Party campaigns

Judiciary challenged over the right to protest

Building a left wing political alternative

Southampton uni students fight fees

Liverpool: mobilising against the far right

In brief


Social workers demand proper resources

Secondary education: PFI's gloss soon peels away

Socialist Party LGBT

Fighting homophobia

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Crisis-hit capitalism fears prospect of revolution

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela elections: Chávez wins victory but opposition gains ground

Marxist analysis: history

The Isle of Man general strike 1918: Workers' power paralysed government

Socialist Party news and analysis

Help fund the alternative to big business politics

Socialist women: Looking at the past to take action today

Housing crisis

Stop the repossessions

New Labour's housing crisis

Socialist Party workplace news

Vote 'no' to BT's pension cuts

A Christmas message from the Unite leadership

Dover docks strikes

Appledore shipyard


Home   |   The Socialist 3 December 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Social workers:

triangleCarlisle socialists campaign against Universal Credit

triangleThem & Us

triangleOne Housing tenants force housing association back

triangle"I have left work many times in tears" - a council worker

triangleWorkplace news in brief


triangleOpinion: foster care is work - carers deserve workers' rights

triangleTeacher recruitment falls by a third - cut workload, not funding

triangleBradford protest against children's service cuts

triangleThe Socialist inbox


triangleCorbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangleWe must fight all council cuts!

trianglePacked Newham meeting against academies

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



Carillion and the construction industry



Theatre: 'Young Marx' shows growth in great platform for his ideas



Opinion: British imperialism can take no credit in fight against Isis



Opinion: foster care is work - carers deserve workers' rights



Debate: should tower blocks form part of socialist housing policy?



Art can help expose sexual harassment


The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox



The Socialist inbox


Work Capability Assessment

Tory prescription for mental illness: stress and bureaucracy


The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz



The Socialist Inbox



Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane


Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed



Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike


Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



January 2018






















Platform setting: = No platform choice