UNISON warns social work standards are at risk from austerity cuts

Date: Wed 12 June 2013

Social workers meeting in Glasgow today (Wed) warned that managers and the Scottish Government must do more protect services to the most vulnerable in the face of austerity cuts.

Stephen Smellie, Vice Convener of UNISON Scotland, told a seminar on ethical social work that cutbacks are placing unprecedented pressures on services and on staff working to ensure professional standards are upheld.

He said: “It has never been more difficult to deliver social work services. The austerity policies have resulted in increasing social problems, increasing burdens on families and service users and at the same time cuts in services.

“Social work staff in all sectors have seen the demand for their services and their workloads increase. UNISON members want to provide high quality services but are under increasing pressure.

“As a union we will support members to ensure they are able to maintain the appropriate professional standards and at the same time are safe in their workplaces.

“The employers and government need to do more to protect social work services and to ensure that there is no race to the bottom through contracting out services.”

Stephen, chair of the public service union’s Social Work Issues Group, said that a number of challenges potentially put standards at risk, without strong attention to protecting them. These include health and social care integration, the roll out of personalisation and increasingly complex caseloads.


For information please contact:
Stephen Smellie, Vice Convener of UNISON Scotland and Chair of the Social Work Issues Group, 07740 096864
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877000

Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.

2. UNISON represent social workers and social care staff in all areas including residential workers, social care workers, occupational therapists, home care staff and professional, admin and clerical support staff. See www.unison-scotland.org/social-work

3. Reporters are invited to attend the speakers’ sessions at the start of the ‘Ethical Social Work in a Time of Austerity’ seminar at 10am at UNISON Glasgow City Branch Office, 84 Bell Street, Glasgow.

4. Speakers include Jane Houston, NHS Lothian UNISON Partnership rep, on Integration Health and Social Care and Matthew Egan, UNISON assistant National Officer and lead on the union’s Ethical Care Charter. Also speaking is Colin Turbett, team manager at North Ayrshire council, author of ‘Rural Social Work in Practice’ and a member of UNISON’s Social Work Issues Group.

5. The UNISON Ethical Social Care Charter is online at https://unison-scotland.org/wp-content/uploads/Final-Ethical-Care-Charter-PDF-1.pdf