Personalisation: the facts

UNISON Scotland, the Social Work Action Network and Defend Glasgow Services Campaign are holding a day conference on from 10.30am on Saturday 10th March 2012 which will provide an opportunity for service users, workers, carers, families and those interested in the issues around personalisation to come together. The conference is free and takes place at the UNISON offices at 84 Bell Street Glasgow.

The day will be made up of a variety or inputs and workshops covering the latest developments and providing an opportunity to discuss our aims for campaigning to make personalisation work in Glasgow and the whole of Scotland.

The conference will be of interest to all involved in personalisation and self directed support issues in Scotland.
To be kept in touch with details of the conference please contact Mandy McDowall on or (0141) 342 2841.

Stop Tesco’s attack on the unemployed

This is a key rotten plank of the Coalition Government’s vicious social policy which will mean that unemployed people, who are disproportionately comprised of people with disabilities, learning difficulties, mental health and substance misuse issues, will be made to work for nothing.  

Under the Work Programme, unemployed people are required to enter ‘work placements’ not for the minimum wage, but only for their Job Seeker’s Allowance. If people refuse, they will have their benefits removed. Often the jobs people are forced into involve dull, repetitive work, have the least sociable shifts and are in non-unionised workplaces. This undermines wages, reduces the number of paid jobs, erodes working rights and conditions and does not make economic sense.

SWAN notes that as many users of social care services are kicked of Employment and Support Allowance by Atos’ discredited Work Capability Assessments, they will then face this prospect of unpaid work as they are moved onto Job Seeker’s Allowance. Or destitution once their benefits are stopped This may be the fate in store for many people who are genuinely not able to work.

Over the past four months some 1,400 people have worked for Tesco without pay. Only 300 got a job with the company. Tesco made £4 billion in profits last year, whose CEO gets almost £7 million a year in pay.

Sam James, Joint National Chair of the Right to Work Coalition, commented to SWAN, ‘this is a protest against the scandal of Tesco filling jobs with people who are paid nothing but their Job Seeker’s Allowance, working alongside salaried staff doing the same work. Recently, Tesco put an up advert in a East Anglia, with pay listed as “JSA + expenses” – this was advertised as permanent, rather than part of a six-week placement scheme. This is free labour for Tesco – courtesy of the government. Already TK Maxx, Sainsbury and Marie Curie nurses have pulled out of the scheme. Now we want to ramp up the pressure on Tesco to do the same.’

SWAN opposes the broader ‘Workfare’ policy as stigmatizing and blaming of unemployed people for their own woes, following an economic crisis caused by the financial services industry.

SWAN believes in decent jobs, pay, terms and conditions for all. Social care service users, carers and workers are part of the 99%!

School Uniform Grant Campaign

SWAN activists in Liverpool are campaigning alongside Liverpool Against the Cuts (LATC) to reverse the council’s recent decision to scrap school uniform grants for 24,000 of the poorest children and young people across the region. Cutting the grants will mean parents on very low incomes no longer receive £20 per year towards the cost of a primary school uniform and £40 for secondary school uniforms. SWAN Liverpool and LATC believe the cuts to school uniform grants are both unnecessary and unfair. The cuts to school uniform grants comes as another direct attack by Liverpool City Council on poor working class families.

If you wish to get involved in the campaign, please send an email to:

Statement on closure of the Southampton social Work course

It is against this backdrop that we are perplexed and dismayed  by the decision of Southampton University to close their Professional Social Work Degree course. Southampton has always been a pioneer in social work education and is widely regarded as one of the most well respected centres of excellent  for social work education in the UK and beyond.

We understand that a major reason for Southampton University in taking this decision is to concentrate on those courses and programmes that are deemed to be most effective in producing ‘high quality’ research. Whilst we are all in favour of  research informed teaching, we feel the real reasons are more to do with economic reasons rather than research excellence alone.

We say such a strategy is both morally unfair and myopic in a business sense. Social work as an academic discipline in the UK has made enormous strides over the past two decades in building up a research base and it is now widely regarded by social work academics and professionals from other countries. This can be evidenced in the high concentration of high quality social work related academic journals and the disproportionately high number of social work books published in the UK. In a situation like this, it makes no sense to cut back education and research just as they are in the process of being taken much more seriously and considered alongside the more established vocational disciplines of medicine and law.

We are additionally concerned that, rather than being an isolated development, this closure is a sign of the times we living in as a result of Coalition Government’s plan to marketise Higher Education.  The proposal which has caused the most immediate anger and led to extensive demonstrations in the last two years has been the policy of raising university fees from around £3,000 up to £9,000.  However what people are  less aware of is the central proposal in the recent Education White Paper which links the offering of courses by universities with the capacity of students to readily pay back the debts they will accrue as a result of the huge hike in fees.  This is a proposal that effectively makes the earning capacity of graduates the key criteria for educational provision about, rather than the social usefulness of that training programme.  We are concerned that this will have a disproportionate impact on courses  like Social Work, Youth Work, Community studies courses (which prepare people for work in third sector organisations), much of which is undertaken not to earn high wages, but because of a moral commitment to assist those who are vulnerable and in need of assistance.

The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) is gravely concerned that the marketisation of Higher Education will lead to a cut back in Social Work and Social Welfare education, at a time when these programmes are needed more than ever.

Stephen Cowden and Gurnam Singh on behalf of the SWAN Steering Committee.

Support Barnet social workers striking against privatisation

The workers are striking to maintain the integrity and quality of their vital service on 9th February 2012 – they need our backing. Please send your message to:

Let’s fortify the workers with messages of goodwill in their fight against privatisation.
This is a live, frontline example of what is happening in social care, as cuts are made and the welfare state is further denuded. SWAN London has invited the Barnet social workers to speak at our event.

A flyer for Saturday’s SWAN seminar is attached – please do come along and strengthen the resistance!

SWAN London

Dear Swan,

Our colleagues in the team running the duty service for Adults Social Services have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in order to remain a council employee for London Borough of Barnet. The Council is trying to put them in a Call Centre which they are already trying to privatise. Our colleagues have not taken this decision easily and so need to hear that you support them. Please send a message of support to this email address.
The proposed day of action is 9th February when these colleagues will join the 2 bigger groups of colleagues involved in industrial action already trying to prevent being moved from Barnet.
See you Saturday.



Personalisation Networking Meeting – Tuesday 7th February 10am

This meeting comes at a key time as Glasgow plans to announce a further £10 million in cuts to those with disabilities in its budget this month.

The meeting is open to workers, service users, families and campaigners affected by the issues around personalisation and self directed support and whilst focussed on what is happening in Glasgow it is relevant way beyond the confines of the city.

Tuesday 7th February 10am

UNISON Glasgow branch office, 84 Bell Street, G1 1LQ
(Tel: 0141 552 7069)

Please download and distribute flyer attached.