Within must agree on the exact wording of

Within this assignment I am going to explain how the
role of a social worker is influenced by legislation and social policy whilst
explaining social policy, its governance and functions. The concept of social
inclusion and exclusion will be explained with the responses to these issues in
social policy and the law.  I will be
addressing my reasoning that contemporary social work practice is not possible
without a knowledge of social policy and how theory of this influences social
responses regarding social problems such as poverty and unemployment.

 

Social policy is mainly focused on the welfare and
wellbeing of the state and addresses the ways in which different societies meet
the basic human needs for the people living within it, such as, housing,
employment, food and healthcare. This can be culturally contingent as different
countries tend to have varied outlooks on welfare. Social policy addresses how
states and societies adapt and respond to worldwide challenges of social,
demographic and economic change and poverty (Baldock, 2012). Laws are put in
place by parliament to ensure that everyone can live safely and within their
human rights throughout the country.

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Legislations set out proposals for new laws or
amendments to current laws and aim to address particular problems and shape
society. These start of as bills or green and white papers, Green papers are
open to public discussion and are usually plans for future changes within
government. White papers usually state more definite changes to policy or government.
A bill starts at The House of Commons, a brief overview of the bill will be
read out and then it is published in the House of Commons paper, after this a
second reading will take place, MP’s will discuss and debate the bill at this
point. Once the second reading is finished the bill is sent to a committee,
here they will examine every clause and either agree or propose amendments.
MP’s are given the opportunity to propose further changes, debate ideas or come
to an agreement. The bill will then go on to the House of Lords where it will
be examined and further second and third stage reading will take place,
amendments can also be made here. Once the bill is completed fully, each house
will consider further changes, both houses must agree on the exact wording of
the bill. When the bill has completed all of these parliamentary stages it must
have Royal Assent before it can become a law, once this is done the legislation
within the bill can commence immediately or when the correct adaptations are
made within society to allow the act to take place (UK Parliament, 2018).

 

Social exclusion is central within government social
policy and has been for more than 10 years. Although there isn’t one precise
definition for social exclusion, it is viewed as an issue within society by all
political parties. One definition of social exclusion suggests it is the
process in which individuals, groups and families are denied access to the
rights and benefits which is normally available to society such as; education,
housing and employment to name just a few. This is usually a result of poverty,
low income as well as discriminating factors (Pierson, 2010).

Within political power there is right wing and left wing
government. Right wing believe that inequality cannot be helped and is a result
of the natural social differences and competition in market economies. They
think that everyone should look after themselves and shouldn’t have to pay for
other people’s health or education for example. Left wing supports social
equality and has a concern for those in society who are seen as disadvantaged.
They believe that those that are unable to support themselves should be
supported and believe that with equality the human race cannot fail. Tony Blair
and the New Labour party introduced the Third Way, an ideology to bridge
together left and right wing governments in an aim to reduce and eventually
abolish social exclusion. The New Labour government was committed to equality
and opportunities for everyone especially those less privileged, the main focus
being ending poverty by showing that the best way to do this was via
employment. Some of the key values of The Third Way are commitment to equal
opportunity, meaning breaking the cycle of deprivation. Emphasis on
responsibility, people must take responsibility for their own actions, if an
individual wants to quit drinking alcohol for example, they will be supported
by the government but must also play their own part by using the services
provided to them. Service providers will be accountable for the failure or
success of the service, these must be provided in the best possible way and
monitored regularly (Giddens, 2008). This can also be known as social inclusion
which is the action taken to change the circumstances or previous actions that
may have led to social exclusion (Gov.uk, 2018). Tony Blair launched Sure Start
Centres in 1999 as one of the many efforts made to combat social exclusion and
promote social inclusion. Sure Start Centres offer support to families and
young children and started out in the poorer areas of the country. These centres
help combat social exclusion as it gives young families, children and mothers
opportunities, whilst teaching them skills which they would not have received
otherwise (Publications.parliament.uk,
2018).

 

There are many
theories and ideologies surrounding social policy and the law which shape the
public response to social problems, such as poverty. They shape public
responses as everyone has different opinions on how social problems should be
handled, depending on their social status, class or wealth to name a few
examples. One of the theories surrounding poverty and social exclusion is the
Social Democratic perspective. The Social Democrats state that the capitalism
society is inefficient. They believe that everyone should receive universal
benefits rather than means tested. It is thought that means tested benefits
leave people embarrassed and humiliated, therefore individuals claim nothing or
less than they are entitled to adding to unnecessary poverty levels within the
state. It is strongly suggested that the strong should support the weak and
that living this way will create a better social society (Hinchman and Meyer, 2013).

Social Democrats suggest that the solution to problems
such as poverty, discrimination and unemployment lie within targeted
interventions which are designed to tackle the primary causes. They say that
this is the state’s responsibility to ensure that these problems are eradicated,
and that economic and social problems should be focused more on expanding
opportunities to ensure that every individual is able to reach their full
potential. Social work has a crucial role in ensuring service users needs are
met and supported as well as enabling them to seek services which will be
beneficial to their care (Hinchman and Meyer, 2013).

The social democratic approach influenced the Labour
government throughout history with the introduction of comprehensive schools
abolishing the tripartite system in the 1960-1970’s. In 1998 the National Child
Care strategy was put in place providing early education places for three to four
year old’s and in 2002 job centre plus was introduced supporting individuals on
finding employment. Each of the above was a result of the Social Democratic
approach to ensure that people struggling within society would be supported
(Glyn, Kowalik and Przeworski, 2006).

Some people think that the Social Democratic
perspective is unrealistic and too optimistic as even within the most
sophisticated welfare states there is still problems of unemployment and
poverty. Marxists believe that Social Democrats have not taken this far enough
and their policies on welfare does not distribute the wealth from the rich to
the poor (Holborn, Langley and Haralambos, 2009).

 

It is crucial for social workers to have knowledge of
social policy as the individuals who they often work with are excluded from
society and marginalised. Social work is a profession which helps to protect
people from harm or abuse, supporting individuals through tough periods of
their lives and when necessary being an advocate for them as well as direction
to the services available. This is applied to individuals of all ages from
birth to death (BASW, 2018).

The history of social work goes back to the 1600’s
starting with the Elizabethan Poor Law, this was the idea that each parish
should look after the poor within their areas. The Poor Law Amendment Act was
introduced in 1834 to reduce the cost of taking care of the poor. The poor
would be entered into the workhouses ensuring that they would be housed, fed
and clothed, children entered into these houses would also receive an
education. In return for these rights all individuals would have to work set
hours per day, these conditions were deliberately made to be harsh to deter
people from relying heavily on the state, therefore decreasing the costs (The
National Archives, 2018). The 1900’s saw big changes including the Liberal
Reforms including old age pensions and 1911 National Insurance Act meaning
vulnerable citizens were supported by the state. Sir William Beveridge
presented his Beveridge Report in 1942 to the British parliament, it contained
principles that were needed to banish poverty from Britain. The NHS was created
in 1948 to allow all individuals to have free healthcare at the point of
delivery. The first professional social work qualification was introduced in
1962 and the 1969 Children and Young Person Act gave all social workers
statutory responsibilities (Payne, 2005). Now into the 2000’s we have seen
social work become a degree standard profession and having to be registered
with a professional body (HCPC). There is far more privatisation and
outsourcing of state services and in 2017 the introduction of Universal Credit
allows families to have an income when going through hardships such as
disabilities and unemployment (Publications.parliament.uk, 2018). However, when forcibly changing people away from their traditional
benefits into a unified singular payment before the system was fully tested has
resulted in late payments and delays. Some MP’s such as Labour’s Frank Field,
who is also chair of the work and pensions committee suggested that these
delays are causing families and individuals to go hungry and unable to pay
bills in a speech given in the House of Commons.

 

Social workers must work within the law and
legislations at all times, therefore the role of a social worker is heavily
influenced by the legislation and social policy that is in place at the time.
Political parties have very different views and takes on how society should be
ran and what is best for the people living within the state. An example of how
legislation and policy influence social workers is the Care Act 1989 and Care
Act 2014.

The Care Act 1989 was introduced by Margaret
Thatcher’s conservative government. The act emerged after an extensive review
of the law, both public and private in relation to children and families. One
of the main concerns was around the quality of services for children in public
care. The research also highlighted the difficulties for parents getting help
for them families before turning into crisis, leaving them feeling marginalised.
The main focus of this act is that the child’s welfare is paramount, no matter
what the situation. The act included children’s welfare and developmental needs
are met including protection from harm and respect for the child’s race.
Parent’s hold responsibility for bringing their children up and for the first
time the child’s wishes and feelings on decisions made for them must be taken
into account. The high court will not make any orders unless it is in the
child’s best interest. However, the act did not address issues regarding all
children’s social care services for example what happened to children and young
people when they left care was not a concern. All political parties agreed on
this act and nationally-shaped training programmes and volumes of guidance were
given on this act for its implementation. (Jones, 2010).

The Care Act 2004 was introduced by Tony Blair’s New
Labour government. The aim of this party was to join up public services for
improved performance and better outcomes. The main focus of the act was ‘every
child matters’, including ways to ensure children are enjoying life, remain
safe in any environment and achieve economic stability for our children’s
future. The aim was to tackle social exclusion, to see children and families as
one rather than separately as clients of social workers or children at school.
Help would be given to parents to aid them in parenting skills and promoting
improved life chances for their children. It included a requirement to
establish drug action teams as well as multi-agency and multi-professional
youth offending teams. The introduction of the Sure Start Programmes was also
introduced and targeted at the most disadvantaged areas to support children and
families. The act emerged after Lord Laming’s report (2003) on the death of
Victoria Climbié, and eight-year-old girl killed by the neglect and assaults of
her aunt and aunt’s boyfriend, and the failures and lack of communication
between agencies. The act would focus on all children not only those who are in
greatest danger and most in need of protection (Jones, 2010).

In 2017 the Children and Social Work Act 2017 received
Royal Assent, the purpose of the legislation was to improve the safeguarding of
children, better support for children both looked after in care and leaving
care and establish a new regulatory regime for the social work profession. Some
of the key changes within the legislation include the rise in age to 25 for
care leavers being supported by local authority, the establishment of a child
safeguarding practice review panel and local arrangements for safeguarding and
promoting the welfare of children (Legislation.gov.uk, 2018).

 

As the Care Act 1989 and Care Act 2004 were introduced
by different political parties, they contain similar aims but with different
views on how they can be achieved. Therefore, social workers would be required
to work within the law and legislation that is put in place at the time,
meaning that the services provided in 1989 to 2004 would be different to the
ones that took place in 2004 and thereafter. It has been explained that Social
exclusion has played a key role in social policy for more than 10 years and
there have been many responses on how this should be tackled, the main one
being social inclusion. To conclude, as been previously discussed law and
social policy is crucial to the job role of a social worker as they must
practice within the laws and legislation that are in place. A thorough
understanding of social policies and the theories behind it will enable a
social worker to provide service users with the best possible support whilst
adhering to the law. It is important to recognise that most service users will
have been marginalised and often excluded from society, so a knowledge of
social policy is crucial.

 

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