Incoming minister Brendan Clarke-Smith says public is blind to practitoners’ role ‘behind the scenes’ in keeping children safe and empowering families
t is a “national scandal” that social workers are “overlooked” because they “do their jobs so well” in keeping children safe and empowering families to improve their lives, the new children’s minister has said.
Brendan Clarke-Smith made the comments in a parliamentary debate yesterday on the children’s social care workforce, less than two weeks after replacing Will Quince in the role at the Department for Education (DfE) following Boris Johnson’s resignation.
Clarke-Smith was responding to comments from Labour MP Marie Rimmer, who initiated the debate, that social workers were “not receiving the respect they deserve for the value they add to our country”, against a backdrop of resources being “stretched thin”, caseloads becoming “increasingly unmanageable” and acute recruitment and retention difficulties for councils.
The minister defended the government’s record on social work, citing the latest DfE workforce figures, which showed record numbers of children’s social workers in statutory practice in England, and investment of £50m a year in recruiting and developing practitioners in children’s services.
However, he also raised significant concerns about public perceptions of social work, while hailing the profession’s impact on children and families.