Who are the Social Work Action Network?

In this area of the website you can find out more about how SWAN functions as a democratic organisation, with a facility to make direct contact with the national steering committee or regional groups. It also includes information and articles from regional groups.

Contact us. Here you can email the National Steering Committee of any of the existing regional SWAN groups. If you would like to set up a SWAN group in your area, we would love to help you do this – please email ‘Membership’ to discuss this by clicking here.

National Organisation. This includes a summary of the organisation’s purpose and history and important democratic information: the manifesto and constitution. This also contains the list of 2011 SWAN national steering committee members.

Regional SWAN. Each SWAN region has its own section of the website in which events, activities and reports from that district are listed. This provides a peek into SWAN’s life beyond the national conference and commentary on social policy and care in the media.



* The impact of neoliberalism, marketisation and managerialism on Social Work and Social Pedagogy

* The links between social work and social movements

*The importnace and significance of local social work traditions

* Alternative interpretations and practices of social work across the globe and how this affects our understandings of “international social work”

* Encouragement of an inclusive debate about the future direction of social work, involving social work academics, practitioners, students, service users and representative organisations (both professional and trade union)

If you wish to send us comments, articles, news, pictures and videos about the state of social work in your country please contact Vassilis Ioakimidis .We encourage contributions in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Hindu/ Tamil and Italian. It would be useful if contributions are accompanied by a very brief abstract in English.

Webmaster – Maintenance

The SWAN forum is up and running, thank you for your patience. You will find it under the main menu link  “Discussion-Forum” on the left.

We await your comments and suggestions.

The next couple of weeks should be a trial period, so please start using and report any issues.

Thank you and enjoy!

Dilnot Report doesn’t address the crisis in adult social care

Yet beneath the gloss what is actually being said?

The two key headline changes being proposed are that there should be a ‘life-time cap’ of £35,000 on the contribution costs service users should be expected to make towards their care costs and that the mean-tested threshold for savings below which people become eligible for state-funded residential care should increase from £23,250 to £100,000.

These two proposals are probably why Andrew Lansley met the publication of the report with what can only be described as indifference – ‘welcoming’ the report but warning that the costs may not be able to be met –  raising questions about whether the Report will progress much further.

If further ‘evidence’ was needed here then it came on Thursday  7/7/2011 when Peter Hay from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services claimed that cuts to adult social care are going to get even worse in 2012-13 compared to this year’s already desperate situation.

However, there are serious issues that Dilnot fails to address.

First, the Report proposals are regressive not progressive in terms of their impact on wealth redistribution – with the wealthiest 20% of society the biggest gainers. Stephen Burke, from the campaign group United For All Ages claims:
“Under the commission’s regressive proposals, the winners would be richer families whose inheritance will be relatively protected while most families will face a more confusing and potentially costly care system.”1

For the millionaires in the ConDem Coalition cabinet a £35,000 flat rate fee for a life-time of care is a drop in the ocean. For the vast majority of us, it’s much more. On top of that the flat rate cap does not include the ‘board and lodging costs’ of residential care which can be charged to service users (which are estimated at somewhere between £7,000 and £10,000 per year). As a result, First Stop Care Advice point out that that people who are in residential care for five years would face an £85,000 bill – £35,000 for care and £10,000 a year for living costs –  which for many would involve selling their home.

Second, the proposals will not end the market in adult social care, but will mean more money will be diverted to the large ‘oligarchic’ providers of social care. Do we really want to give more to Southern Cross and their ilk? Undoubtedly there are insurance companies, banks and other financial institutions licking their lips at the prospect of creating new financial ‘products’ to insure vulnerable people against the fear of what might await them in terms of their care needs in later life. But why should these companies (whose behaviour was one of the key causes of the present economic crisis) be given yet another opportunity to make vast profits from social care services?

Finally, the Report doesn’t consider what to most of us would seem like the obvious and logical answer to how adult social care should be funded and provided i.e. free at the point of use and paid for out of general taxation. SWAN steering committee member Peter Beresford was an almost lone voice putting this case in the Community Care discussion of the Dilnot Report.2

No doubt this will be dismissed in some circles as a fantasy – especially given the ‘debt crisis’ but despite the near daily claims from politicians and media pundits that ‘there is no alternative’ to austerity and marketisation we have to emphasise that:
(a)    The debt burden as a proportion of GDP is smaller than it was at any time between 1919 and 1961 – when we built the welfare state!3
(b)    Britain is the fifth richest country in the world! We could easily pay of the debt and provide fully funded high quality adult social care by increasing top tax rates (which, for the highest earners are 10 pence in the pound less than when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister), closing tax avoidance loop-holes (the UK Treasury estimated it failed to collect £42bn in tax in 2009; the Tax Justice Network puts the estimates for that year at closer to £95bn, ending military intervention in Afghanistan, announcing that the Trident missile system won’t be replaced (the total costs of Trident renewal will amount to between £94.7bn and £104.2bn over the lifetime of the system, estimated at 30 years. This equates to £3.3bn per year, and introducing one-off levies on bank bonus payouts given the banks’ role in initiating the crisis (the bonuses for Christmas 2010 in London’s financial sector amounted to an estimated £7bn.4

We should not be fooled by Dilnot. His Report does not challenge the market in adult care, nor does it offer any kind of answer to the unfolding crisis facing older people who need support and care in their later years.

1 Community Care 5/7/2011 “Dilnot reaction: the cheerleaders, the sceptics and the downright hostile” http://www.communitycare.co.uk/blogs/adult-care-blog/2011/07/dilnot-reaction-the-cheerleaders-the-sceptics-and-the-downright-hostile.html

2 Community Care (5/7/2011) http://www.communitycare.co.uk/blogs/social-care-the-big-picture/2011/07/question-marks-surround-dilnot-commission-proposals.html

3 PCS (2010) There is An Alternative: The case against cuts in public spending  http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/campaigns/campaign-resources/there-is-an-alternative-the-case-against-cuts-in-public-spending.cfm

4 Treanor J (2010) “Banks Agree £200bn for businesses but pay talks unresolved” The Guardian 21/12/2010 http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/dec/21/banks-agree-lend-business-pay-talks?INTCMP=SRCH


SWAN protests against racist cuts to child asylum seekers support services in Solihull

The protest was organised after the UK Border Agency froze its grant to local authorities causing a massive overspend for Solihull council’s unaccompanied migrant children’s services.

Solihull council has responded in turn by cutting its own budget for these services to the tune of £1.2 million.

It proposes to do this by pushing 16 year olds out of foster care into independent accommodation with reduced support. The policy is discriminatory by the fact that other young people in the care system are not being placed under the same pressure to leave care.

The protest was organised by SWAN West Midlands and supported by UNISON.

SWAN Practice Notes series

Michael Lavalette, SWAN National Convenor, commented, “I’m delighted that SWAN has started a new series of Practice Notes. Our first draws on the experience of SWAN activists in the Midlands and offers some ideas about what social workers can do when faced with cuts to services for refugee children and young people. These Practice Notes can be accessed on our website and will be – we hope – the first of many.”



SWAN National Conference 2011 details and updated speakers


Conference Theme, Programme and Speakers

The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) will hold its next annual conference in Birmingham during April 2011. The theme of the conference will be building alliances in the struggle to defend services and challenge austerity measures. The conference will bring together social work practitioners, service users, students and educators to share experiences and further develop our networks of resistance.

Download the leaflet for the conference below.


Speakers include:

Professor Sue White (Critic of social work targets)

Bob Williams-Findlay (Disabled People Against Cuts)

Pat Stack (London Self-Directed support)

Helga Pile (Unison Social Care Lead)

Bob Holman (Community campaigner)

Kalbir Shukra (Youth worker activist)

John McArdle (Black Triangle campaign)

Karen Reissman (Unison / NHS anti-privitisation campaigner)

Speaker from the Education Activist Network

International speakers:

Linda Smith (South Africa)

Vassilis Ioakimides (Greece)

Kwok Kin Lai (Hong Kong)

Judith Orr (Eyewitness of Egyptian Revolution)


Sessions include:

Challenging Cameron’s Big Society and fighting welfare cuts

Building alliances defending services – a session led by young people

Social work and resistance across the globe


Workshops on:

Radical social work, challenging racism and oppression and other related topics

Please note the conference begins at 1pm on Friday 15th April and finishes at 5pm on Saturday 16th April 2011.

Online and postal booking for the Conference is available.

World Conference of the International Federation of Social Workers 2010 in Hong Kong

i. Neoliberalism, managerialism and social work

Dr. Gidraph Wairire,The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes on Social Work and Welfare in Kenya

Professor Catherine MacDonald A Case study of managing a non-profit sector: purchase of service contracting in family support services

Fumihito ITO Education, training and qualification of Social Workers in Japan: The impact of State neo-liberal policies

ii. War, political conflict and social work

Dr Michael Lavalette Barrie Levine Social Work and Popular Resistance: Examples from Palestine and Lebanon

Carmen Hinestroza, Reclaiming the public space; Social work and the struggle of the AfroColombian and indigenous displaced communities.

Dr Vassilis Ioakimidis, Welfare and warfare; grassroots welfare and the Greek resistance

iii. Towards a Social Work of Resistance

Rudi Roose: The problem of language of resistrance

Michael Reisch: Challenging the master narrative in social work to create a philosophy and practice of resistance

Linda Smith: The inescapable responsibility of pursuing social justice

SWAN Conference 2012 in Liverpool

The 2012 conference takes place against a backdrop of Government cuts and austerity measures that are producing a massive crisis in social work and social care. Workers face redundancies, increased workloads, pay cuts, threats to pensions and a stressful working life that is producing all manner of social and personal problems. For service users cuts mean worse services, more expense and less involvement in significant decisions that affect their lives. The Government response has been to argue for greater marketisation, as a reflection of ‘customer choice’. They have taken every opportunity to encouraged businesses, large and small, to bid for contracts and make profits from public services, yet as the crisis of Southern Cross shows the priorities of companies are always profits, not meeting human need.

The Government’s agenda is ideological. It is not a response to ‘economic necessity’. The crisis started when the Government bailed out failing banks – why should ordinary people and public services pay the price?

This year’s SWAN conference addresses these problems and issues. It provides a forum where academics, frontline workers, students and service users can come together, debate and forge alliances to create a counterpoint to the Government’s mantra that ‘there is no alternative to the market’. Instead the conference will explore alternative visions which offer hope that ‘another social work’ and ‘another form of social care’ is possible.

 Speakers include:  Danny Dorling, Charlotte Williams, Gurnam Singh, Iain Ferguson, Michael Lavalette, Peter Beresford, Helga Pile

Sessions include: In defence of multi-culturalism; Responding to the crisis in adult social care; Challenges in children and families social work; Is there a future for youth work? What can we learning from radical international social work projects? Fighting the cuts, building the resistance

SWAN Conference 2010

With a line-up of excellent speakers, the conference promises to be an exciting event.  Please book up early – unlike most other conferences, SWAN is organising this event on a break-even basis to ensure front-line workers, activists and students can afford to attend – with no subsidies, we need to ensure we are fully subscribed.

Please forward the flyer to other organisations and contacts you think may be interested

If you have any questions, or want to get involved in SWAN or contributing to the conference – please email  swanscotland@yahoo.co.uk


download the flyer here

Information about accomodation

Margaret Macdonald House  (2 star hostel accomm. in art school halls of residence)
89 Buccleuch Street
G3 6QT

Nightly Rate from £15 per person

Contact details: 0141 331 1261 or margaretmacdonaldhouse@gsa.ac.uk o rwww.gsa.ac.uk/summervacation

University of Glasgow
Forbes Hall & Garnett Hall
50 Richmond Street
G1 1XP

Cost: Single Standard B&B, £29.87

If individuals are booking they should say they are here for the SWAN conference and folk will be placed near each other.

Contact Details: 0141 553 4148 or accommodationglasgow@strath.ac.uk orwww.rescat.strath.ac.uk

Details of the full range of accommodation in Glasgow are available on visitscotland.com/Glasgow

SWAN Activities May 9th-15th, Week of Action Against Benefit Cuts

Please attend and show your opposition to the vilification of claimants and service users and defend benefit rights. When we fight, we can win!


 Monday 9th May, 14:00

Picnic and party in Triton Square (near Warren Street tube), home of Atos Origin’s head office. Please find further details of the plans for the week below:

National Week of Action Against Atos Origin: Monday, May 9 – May 15


Thursday 12th May, 15:30-17:30

Joint demonstration by Bristol SWAN and BADACA (Social Care Welfare, benefits & claimants group) outside ATOS Origin, Flowers Hill, Bristol BS4 5LA



Thursday 12th May, 19:00

Meeting sponsored by Disabled People Against Cuts, Right to Work and SWAN West Midlands

‘Benefit Cuts: Who are they targeting? How can we stop them?’


Solicitor from Irwin Mitchell who won the case preventing Birmingham City Council changing eligibility criteria for care funding

Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts

Michael Bradley, Right to Work

SWAN speaker

Venue: Unison offices, 19th floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway, Birmingham B4 7NN