of the 21st Century Social Work Review Briefing No.
In the Summer of 2004, the Scottish Parliament
commissioned the 21st Century Social Work Review, following
a debate in the Scottish Parliament. The Review was set up against
a background of negative publicity against social work staff following
several high profile abuse cases.
Despite this, the Review was welcomed by UNISON
who believed it would examine the current pressures facing social
services staff in Scotland, including recruitment and retention,
job status and pay structures.
The review was set up under the Chairmanship of
William Roe and included membership from Local Authorities, Social
Work Departments, Charities, SSSC, etc.
The main aim of the Review Group was to "take
a fundamental look at all aspects of social work in order to strengthen
its contribution to the delivery of integrated services."
It was recognised that Scotland had changed since
the 1968 Social Work Act, with an increasingly elderly population,
greater numbers of children in need, a
more fractured society medical, etc. have meant
that social work services also needed to change.
Under the main Review Group, there were 5 sub groups:
The Role of the Social Worker which included
Trade Unions, including UNISON
The Stakeholder Sub Group
Leadership and Management
Users and Carers
The groups carried out more than a year of intensive
work across the whole of Scotland talking to professionals delivering
social work services, those who use the services, academics and
managers and the general public.
The Report, entitled Changing Lives,
was launched on 8 February 2006 by members of the Users and Carers
Group, assisted by Willie Roe, Chairman and Peter Peacock, MSP,
Minister for Education and Young People.
The report drew three fundamental conclusions:
Doing more of the same won't work. Increasing
demand, greater complexity and rising expectations mean that
the current situation is not sustainable
Social work services don't have all the
answers. They need to work closely with other universal providers
in all sectors to find new ways to design and deliver services
across the public sector
Social workers' skills are highly valued
and increasingly relevant to the changing needs of society.
Yet we are far from making the best of these skills.
The Report looks at the changing context for Social
Work Services and in particular, defines the Role of the Social
Worker, an issue UNISON had real concerns about
The report emphasises that a new direction for social
work services must be implemented and makes several recommendations
on how this can be achieved:
Building Capacity to deliver personalised
services – for individuals, families and communities with
an emphasis on prevention.
Building the capacity of the Workforce
– making full and effective use of the whole workforce,
developing confidence and trust and shifting the balance of
power and control. Front line workers will need to use therapeutic
relationships to help those with complex needs gain control
of their lives. They will need
to be supported to practice accountably and exercise
professional autonomy. The report also proposes the introduction
of a new paraprofessional role, taking responsibility for delegated
The Scottish Executive has welcomed the findings
of the 21st Century Review and committed itself to
bringing forward legislation to drive the changes that are needed
to meet the aims of the report.
In particular, it will, amongst other things:
Set up a Cabinet Delivery Group to oversee
the implementation of the reforms;
Establish a National Social Work Services
Forum, chaired by the Minister;
Establish a system for setting national priorities
in social work services;
In addition, to the above, the Executive will support
the whole change process with additional funding.
The change programme will also:
define the protected functions of the Social
develop a career structure for social workers;
develop a clear framework of professional
develop a capable, well prepared and supported
Introduce the concept of the paraprofessional
The Scottish Executive will be discussing the detailed
implications of the Review's findings prior to producing a full
implementation plan. This will form the
second stage of the Executive's response to be published
later in the year which will include detailed funding proposals,
outcome measures and performance monitoring arrangements
Issues for UNISON:
UNISON will be considering its response at the Social
Work Conference to be held on 24th March 2006 in Glasgow
which will be addressed by Willie Roe, Chairman of the Review..
At the Conference, members will need to consider:
how the Review will affect their working lives,
to what extent it will solve the current difficulties
of recruitment and retention;
whether sufficient funding will be made available;
the impact and concerns of the new paraprofessionals
Report of the 21st Century Social Work
Scottish Executive response
Scottish Executive News Release
UNISON Press Release
Dave Watson -
@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141-307 2572
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