A number of people have been contacting me regarding the Manifesto for Social Work.
Liberal Democrats believe social workers offer invaluable services and will continue to support these services and work to tackle the issues that they help people overcome.
Balancing the books on the backs of the poor and disabled, and demonising people who claim benefits, is neither acceptable nor responsible.
It is more effective to tackle the causes of the benefits bill – low pay, high rents, unemployment and ill-health. That’s why Liberal Democrats will reverse unfair Conservative policies like reducing support for younger people and cutting the benefits of people not fit for work. We will reinstate the legally binding poverty targets of the Child Poverty Act. We will also scrap the discredited Work Capability Assessment and replace it with a new system, run by local authorities according to national rules, including a ‘real world’ test that is based on the local labour market. And we will end the freeze on benefits and uprate working-age benefits at least in line with inflation.
Unemployment isn’t just an economic challenge – it’s a personal problem, and government must do everything it can to help those who can work find a job and provide for themselves and their family. Liberal Democrats will separate employment support from benefits administration – making Job Centres places of training and support into work. We will take 13,000 children out of poverty by letting both parents earn before their Universal Credit is cut, and also reverse cuts to the Family Element. We will also raise awareness of, and seek to expand, Access to Work, which supports people with disabilities in work and improve links between Job Centres and Work Programme providers and the local NHS to ensure all those in receipt of health-related benefits are getting the care and support to which they are entitled.
Liberal Democrats will end the scandal of rough sleeping by increasing support for homelessness prevention and adequately funding age-appropriate emergency accommodation and supported housing, while ensuring that all local authorities have at least one provider of the Housing First model of provision for long term, entrenched homeless people. We will also end the Voluntary Right to Buy pilots that sell off Housing Association homes and the associated high value asset levy. As well as this, we will lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of Housing Associations so that they can build council and social housing and scrap exemptions on smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes, and strengthen the hand of local government to prevent large developers reneging on their commitments.
Liberal Democrats will invest in our health and care systems so that they can keep delivering for generations to come. The NHS and social care services are now in a state of crisis. The Conservatives have left them chronically under-funded, while need continues to grow and patient care suffers. Social care is facing a funding blackhole of £2 billion this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on the care that they need. Only Liberal Democrats will make the case for increasing tax to guarantee the future of public health and care services. We will put a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and care services an extra £6 billion, with approximately £2 billion of this ringfenced for social care and £1 billion for mental health services.
We will continue to promote and invest in the Frontline programme to fast-track exceptional graduates into children’s social work, as well as the Think Ahead scheme aimed at encouraging high- achieving graduates to pursue a career in mental health social work. As well as this, we will continue to roll out access and waiting time standards for children, young people and adults. This will include a guarantee that people will not wait more than six weeks for therapy for depression or anxiety, and no young person will wait more than two weeks for treatment when they experience a first episode of psychosis.
Liberal Democrats believe that we should all be free from an overreaching state and that the individual freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act are central to a free and democratic society. Liberal Democrats will continue to defend human rights: we will vote against any attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act or withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and we will strengthen the UK’s commitment to international human rights law. We will develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities, and review the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether it is effectively fulfilling its role and whether its funding is adequate.
I am therefore happy to support British Association of Social Workers (BASW) ‘A Manifesto for Social Work’, which you can view here: http://cdn.basw.co.uk/upload/basw_93101-7.pdf #vote4sw