Investigating cuts in children’s social care: an activist’s toolkit

The Toolkit identifies a wide range of sources of key information and suggests information that can be acquired by FOI requests. It uses Birmingham City Council as an example and focuses on Looked after Children services to illustrate the types of information that should be available in all Local Authorities and service areas.

Social care services are being changed in the way they are being provided at the same time as budgets are being cut. Additionally there is growing need for services affected by demographic trends and the social impact of austerity policies.  This context makes it more challenging to understand and unravel the impact of cuts on service users in the present and in the future.

This toolkit starts with how councils set their budgets and looks at the governance arrangements of local authorities together with wider commissioning arrangements for services. Subsequent sections look at the statutory framework of services and the changing needs of the population requiring a service.  It suggests ways to utilise inspection, audit and performance information.

West Midlands Social Work Action Network can be contacted @

Please forward and distribute and do provide us with critical feedback.

Statement on the closure of the Independent Living Fund

Kevin Caulfield Chair Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts said, “The announcement of the closure of the ILF is yet another nail in the coffin of the increasing numbers of disabled people being discarded into isolation, social exclusion, deteriorating health and premature death. This is more evidence that we are so far from being all in this together.”

Whereas support received through the ILF has transformed thousands of lives, local authorities are not able to provide the same level or range of support through their current systems. With central funding to local authorities being cut this can only get worse.

Current ILF recipient Jenny Hurst said she “can’t bear to think of a return to life” without the opportunities the ILF has given her. “Before I was referred for funding from the ILF I received a package of 4 hours a day, one hour for getting me up/showered and breakfasted, one hour for house work and lunch, one hour for supper and an hour to do the “put to bed”. In between times I couldn’t get a drink or use the toilet- let alone do anything meaningful with my life.” With support funded by the ILF she was able to go to university, get a full time job and become a Trustee of a charity.

ILF recipient Anne Novis who received an MBE for services to the community, said ”I employ five PA’s, their jobs will be at risk as I know and have been told I will receive less funds … from my local authority”. She added “I definitely will not be able to contribute to society, have my grandchildren over to stay, or even have a life worth living.”

The government’s decision to push ahead with their plans comes in spite of overwhelming opposition from disabled people and their families. Local Authorities have widely expressed concerns that without ring fencing there will be a loss of support for existing ILF users and for some individuals no option but to go into residential care. Given the current surge of abuse revelations concerning people placed in institutional settings such as those associated with the Winterbourne View case, it is distressing that the government is nevertheless abandoning the right for disabled people who require round the clock support to live in the community in a home of their own and with choice and control over their lives.

Notes to Editors

1)  Inclusion London is a pan-impairment organising promoting equality for London’s Deaf and disabled people.
2)  Disabled People against Cuts is a national campaign led by disabled people to oppose the attacks on disabled people’s human rights and independent living being carried out under the guise of the austerity agenda.
3)  The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was set up in 1988 to provide the additional funding disabled people needed to live at home when the alternative was residential care. 4)   The Fund which was permanently closed to new applicants in December 2010 will be shut down completely from 31 March 2015.5)   The action by the Westminster government contravenes article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People on independent living and goes against the principle of the Convention as well as against the European Convention on Human Rights
For more information:
Ellen Clifford,
Campaigns and Communications Officer
Inclusion London                   Tel: 07505 144371
ILF recipients:
Kevin Caulfield: 07899 752877;
Jenny Hurst:
Solicitors representing the claimants involved in the legal challenge:
Scott-Moncrieff &Associates (Diane Astin/Kate Whittaker)
Office 7, 19 Greenwodd Place
London NW5 1LB   Tel: 020 7485 5588/07792 700825
Deighton Pierce Glynn (Louise Whitfield)
8 Union Street
London SE1 1SZ     Tel: 020 7407 0007

SWAN Ireland Winter Bulletin 2012

The SWAN Ireland winter bulletin 2012 is now available to download. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this edition of the bulletin. The amount of hard work and effort that has gone into establishing SWAN Ireland in the past few months is fantastic and exciting to see. We hope that 2013 will bring even more radical social workers, social care workers etc out in force!


Final flyers for SWAN Conference 2013

SWAN London region are working hard on preparations for next year’s SWAN conference, which we hope will be the largest radical social work conference SWAN has ever held.Owen Jones - author of 'Chavs: the demonisation of the Working Class'

Key note speakers will include Owen Jones, author of ‘Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class’ and Selma James, author, international coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike and founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign.

The final flyers for next year’s conference are now complete and ready for distribution around practice networks, user-lead organisations, academic lists, activist and grassroots networks and to everyone with a belief in a socially just social care and welfare. Please find a general flyer and an accessible flyer below and distribute these around your networks as widely as possible.

West Yorkshire SWAN: Leeds Budget Day Protest Against Tory Cuts – 5th December

On budget day Tory Chancellor George Osborne will announce yet more cuts. Join the protest against this destruction of our welfare state. The Tories are making us pay for the trillion-pound bank bailout. The NHS and education are being ripped apart by cuts and privatisation. The rich get richer while millions suffer from falling wages, pension cuts, or unemployment, especially young people. What’s worse, only 20 percent of the cuts have come through, with David Cameron predicting a decade of savage austerity – paid for by us! Millions have demonstrated and gone on strike in 2012, now let’s unite to build mass action and a general strike in 2013.

Get involved in Leeds Against the Cuts – next meeting is 6pm on Thurs 6th December at the TUC Centre, 88 North Street (press the conference room buzzer)

Sheffield SWAN Meeting 5th December: An Alternative Way Forward in Adult Care – Keeping and Fighting for Your Principle and Values

A presentation and discussion led by service users and practitioners with: 

Mutual Support (Coop) including Elaine Flynn Chair of Mutual Support and SHU Practice Learning Manager, Derek Eastham Founder and Development Worker and Tom Whitaker Member and Development Coordinator.

In partnership with: Personalisation Forum Group including Kelly Hicks Adult Social Worker of the year, Martin Haythorne chair of the PFG and Vinny Cowling the Vice Chair

Everyone – practitioners, students and service users alike – is welcome to this discussion and debate

Gay Adoption: A response to homophobic UKIP candidate

I read the details of your interview alarmingly as UKIP’s “culture, media and sport” spokesman airing your views via the Metro on gay adoption, you term as “abusive”. Perhaps your party leader Nigel Falange, UKIP leader should question his choice of spokesperson as it is clear that you have a very narrow minded and ignorant approach to the term “culture”.

It is always a debate that astounds me but never fails to rear its ugly head to catapult us back to the dark ages. Let me start by saying this, I was raised by two heterosexual, conventional parents and I am gay. Did something go wrong? No, I can’t fault my parents; I didn’t suffer a trauma to confuse my sexuality. I had, by all accounts, a conventional upbringing and just happened to be attracted to the same sex.

The “nature vs nurture” debate is a fallacy for me; if indeed sexuality is a matter of nurture then I should be attracted to and sleep with women, being raised in an exclusively heterosexual family. If, by nature, we are programmed to procreate then gay wouldn’t be; so what happened? Let’s leave the absurd behind and focus on the reality, shall we?

You stated: “To say to a child, ‘I am having you adopted by two men who kiss regularly but don’t worry about it’ – that is abuse. It is a violation of a child’s human rights because that child has no opportunity to grow up under normal circumstances. A caring loving home is a heterosexual or single family. I don’t believe [a gay couple] is healthy for a child… There are people out there who bring up their kids encouraging them to believe they are gay themselves”

Some very outlandish claims Mr McKenzie, where’s your evidence other than your own ignorance? Do you know there was a time where black people were actually considered second class citizens and made to sit at the back of the bus? Thank God for people who ACTUALLY value social justice and human rights that fought against ignorance for equality, mutual respect and dignity. How you can call yourself a Christian if you hierarchise human worth on the basis of same sex attraction? I don’t remember any of my Catholic teachings on the basics of treatment of others to be conditional?

I would consider any parent, who influences the innate sexuality of their child, by what you allude to as psychological and environmental grooming, as abusive regardless of whether the parent is heterosexual, bi-sexual or homosexual. Therefore, my view is that your statement is pathologising gay parents as ritualistic groomers of children. I, as a proud member of the gay community refuse to accept your ignorant stance on the matter.

Just for the record, a caring loving home is one with caring and loving parents, it’s that simple. Evidentially, your opinions hold no weight and quite frankly based on your own narrow-mindedness. Let me draw your attention to The Telegraph’s Tom Chivers’ blog (click for links to articles) which may enlighten you:

There has been some research into all this. A review of the literature carried out in 2002 by the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology looked at 23 studies, examining a total of 615 children of same-sex parents and 387 controls. They looked at “emotional functioning, sexual preference, stigmatization, gender role behaviour, behavioural adjustment, gender identity, and cognitive functioning” – exactly the sort of criteria we discussed above.

They found that “Children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers did not systematically differ from other children on any of the outcomes”; more specifically, the studies “indicate that children raised by lesbian women do not experience adverse outcomes compared with other children”, and the same appears to be true for gay men, although more research was needed given how small their sample was.

Another review, this time from 2010 in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found that “Strengths typically associated with married mother-father families appear to the same extent in families with 2 mothers and potentially in those with 2 fathers”, and that while “Average differences favour women over men … parenting skills are not dichotomous or exclusive”. They conclude “The gender of parents correlates in novel ways with parent-child relationships but has minor significance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success.”

A third review, published in 2008 in the journal Child Development, looked at “sexual identity, personal development, and social relationships” among children of same-sex parents, and found that “there is no evidence that the development of children with lesbian or gay parents is compromised in any significant respect relative to that among children of heterosexual parents in otherwise comparable circumstances.”

If any child of gay parents were to develop problems as an adult, this is more likely to be due to views similar to yours and that of wider society’s intolerance and ignorance, rather than impact of same sex parentage. What we need to see is structural change and normalisation of same sex relationships.

In response to your comments Mr McKenzie, please see this video which offer you first-hand experience, to the contrary of your view:

Written by Michael Dwyer

The original article from SEEN magazine and is accessible here: Article link


For further comment from SWAN on UKIP and the recent Rotherham foster story see the SWAN statement HERE

And sign the SWAN petition ‘No to Political Point Scoring – Put Children First!’ HERE