The horrific case of Baby P should have highlighted how cuts to welfare services are putting more children’s lives at risk. Instead it has opened a vicious assault on social workers by the right wing press, which the government has had no hesitation in joining.
Insights into Haringey social services have revealed how overworked staff have had to carry out an increased number of administration tasks after staff that had previously supported child protection workers were made redundant.
The Sun newspaper launched a major campaign calling for all the social workers involved in Baby P’s case to be sacked. Some 1.3 million people signed the petition and now three Haringey social workers in child protection have been placed “under review”.
Instead of bowing to the Sun’s demands, New Labour should be backing public sector workers and increasing funding for hard-hit services.
Yet, the government has announced even more layers of management, inspection and intimidation. The Ofsted inspectorate is to carry out unannounced annual inspections of children’s services across the country and 28 councils have been put on a list of those “failing” to meet standards.
The government has sought to make political capital out of Baby P’s death and has used the case as a springboard to further monitor and harass social workers. All of this will increase the demoralisation of social workers struggling to make a difference to people’s lives and helping children to live in a safe environment.
Nor do these measures do anything to address the real problems that children and their carers face in Britain today.
The situation for parents is getting worse, with poverty, cuts in public services, childcare that is priced out of reach and minimum wage jobs that barely pay the bills.
People need help and support to bring up their children. We deserve well-trained, well-paid social workers who are able to spend ample time on each case. Government pointscoring and tabloid campaigns will only make matters worse.