Social Work Tutor: Aside from what the producers wanted, what was your aim?‘Vicky’: I am sick (as many social workers are) of people like Nicky Morgan, who has no knowledge of social work, no experience of social work, being appointed as secretary of state and then saying [effectively] “I’m going to fix social workers”, “I’m going to fix social work” and then pointing at social workers. We all know that is a false discourse. It is unhelpful, inaccurate and laden in party political bullshit.
SWT: How much do you think the issues you helped showcase are indicative of social work on a national level?‘Vicky’: The doc makers said they want to present a real picture of the difficulties in social work that social workers are having to deal with. I think to a varying degree they are shared across the country. Some local authorities are better resourced with different demographics that enable them to manage better but the story of social work is being starved of resources.
"I didn't know anything about welfare at all when I started, but that may have been an advantage. I was genuinely shocked that the analysis was such a blob, nobody had come up with anything clear. In a funny way the solution was obvious [after a miraculous three weeks research and writing]."(3)
The government’s chief welfare to work adviser, David Freud, said recently: “I worked out that it is economically rational to spend up to £62,000 on getting the average person on incapacity benefit into work somebody will see a gap in the market and make their fortune.”....
Using Freud’s calculation that the state could pay £62,000 for each of the two million plus people on incapacity benefit they put into work, it would amount to anything up to £120bn going from public funds and into the private sector in the space of three years.
As incapacity benefit costs the country £12bn a year, and claimants who move into low-paid work may still qualify for working tax credit and housing and council tax benefit, Freud’s sums do not appear to add up. All of which is rather worrying for someone with a background in merchant banking. But it certainly explains why he believes private sector firms can make their fortune from this kind of contract.
Social workers and advisers who are working with claimants going through the Pathways to Work programme need to be aware of the “payment by results” world that their client is entering. Employment is a valuable and viable target for many of the people we work with and of course, genuine help to move people nearer to finding work must be welcomed. But the work has to be suitable for the person and the person has to be suitable for work – in a contract-driven environment, those facts may get overlooked in the drive for results.(4)
- http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches - available till 25 June