If you’re interested in social work, whether because it’s your job, you want to make it your career in the future, or you’re simply curious about the field and want to stay informed, it’s a good time to look back at the year and take stock.
Today we’re taking a look at the some of the social work news and developments across 2018 before we head into the future in the new year, with whatever fresh happenings 2019 has in store.
It’s been another year where funding and resourcing has dominated the news – which is unsurprising for two reasons. Firstly, we’re living in economically uncertain times under a government which believes in lowering taxes and reducing the scope of the welfare state. This is unlikely ever to signal a boom time for social workers hoping for a bigger budget to help people. Secondly, it is, sad to say, probable that there’s simply not enough money in the economy for the social work sector to do everything it wants to, and provide staff with the appropriate remuneration and benefits. There’s no harm in aiming high, and no one can accuse the social work sector of not ‘shooting for the moon’.
This year there have been renewed discussion of an additional tax on over 40s levied through an increase in National Insurance to fund elder care the aging population. It’s unlikely to provide a full solution, but it would certainly be a top up to the budget in a sector that needs it.
In more heartening news, a report this summer found that the social care industry contributes more than two billion pounds to the Welsh economy and is responsible for almost 84,000 jobs. In a time of austerity and economic uncertainty, framing the spend on social care in terms of the economic impact it has as an employer in poorer areas could be a real PR win, and something it’s well worth pursuing.
It’s often child care that people think of when ‘social services’ are mentioned and that public awareness drives media stories and political attention. The Rotherham child grooming cases have put child social care squarely in the public eye in the early part of 2018, and the government reviewed proposals to make reporting of at what health care professionals deemed risk children mandatory. It was eventually decided not to make the process mandatory, but leave reporting to the judgement of the professionals in question, to avoid creating a climate of fear and a ‘needle in the haystack’ effect as social workers review cases to find genuinely at risk children.
Nonetheless, as we move in 2019 it’s well worth considering that child care is going to remain at the top of the public consciousness, and providing a balanced approach that gives children and families space to improve while ticking every necessary box will be of primary importance.