A group of us were pleased to contribute to the recent Social Work Action Network’s 10th Annual Conference in Durham. We did so from the platform in one of the plenaries and through running a workshop, owing a great deal to the hard work of Anne Marron in the conference’s planning group. Our contribution was complemented by the creative efforts of the young people’s group, Utter Legends from the North-East. If anything there was just too much to take in at the conference, given the number and diversity of the choices on offer. However, running through the conference we could touch an overwhelming concern about the future of social work, paralleling our fears about the future of youth work.
This anxiety is caught in Terry Murphy’s eloquent piece,
Creeping privatisation leaves social work fighting for its soul,
Two politically and culturally diametrically opposed groups offer us two very different visions of the future of social work: social work as a modern profit-orientated business, or as a community-involved, democratically controlled public service. The tension between these two different models is stretching the former liberal consensus of the profession to breaking point.
Meanwhile the Coalition’s fetishism of the private knows no bounds, expressed in the following move.
Privatise child protection services, Department for Education proposes
Angry responses abound.
Professor Eileen Munro, whom Gove commissioned to carry out an independent review of child protection published in 2011, said establishing a market in child protection would create perverse incentives for private companies to either take more children into care or leave too many languishing with dangerous families.
The charity, Children England, has instigated a 38 Degrees campaign, Keep Profit out of Child Protection
Our campaign is committed to opposing the privatisation of all services, which support ‘the common good’. We urge supporters to sign and spread the word.
Most residential children’s homes are private and there is some great work being done. But lots of very poor providers. There is no doubt it is used to keep costs down at the expense of vulnerable children and without headlines about budgets being slashed.
I can’t see “privatising” child protection being any different.