“Conservatives propose to free up experienced social workers”

By Sarah Cooper

| 16 October 2007

Councils should create consultant social worker positions, according to a Conservative policy commission set up to look at the future of social workers.

In a report published today (17 October) the Commission on Social Workers said the role should be introduced to keep experienced social workers on the frontline. A pay structure to support workers who don't want to move into management should also be created, says the report.

Commission chair and shadow children's minister Tim Loughton said: "We have considered how better to manage the caseload burden on staff and how to ensure the best workers are not lost to the practice by taking on management roles."

The commission also calls for a high-profile advertising campaign to recruit social workers, similar to campaigns for the Army, police and teachers. Commission member Alastair Pettigrew, director of children's social care in Lewisham, said: "I welcome the advertising suggestion - that there be some sort of campaign to change people's views of social workers."

The commission's report, No More Blame Game, makes a total of 14 recommendations, all to be considered for adoption as Conservative Party policy.

Other recommendations include the creation of a newly-qualified social worker status to help support and retain inexperienced social workers, which would include post-qualifying study and training time.

The commission would also like the UK to follow New Zealand's example and appoint a chief social worker to work across government departments as well as with Unison, the British Association of Social Workers, other representative bodies and the media. It also calls for adoption targets to be phased out and a review of the length and content of social work degree courses.

Commission member Polly Neate, executive director of public affairs and communications at the children's charity NCH, hoped the commission's findings would "put social work on policymaker's agendas."

- www.conservatives.com.