How To Assess Needs Without Focusing Upon Cost: Lawful And Ethical Practice – A Resource


Advice for social workers

Many social workers believe the ambitions of the Care Act are being thwarted by its implementation. They feel demoralised, and uneasy about the role they are being required to play in an oppressive system. They are crying out for advice on ethical practice.

Such advice is now available:  Guidance-for-ethical-assessment-practice PDF

It sets out how social workers can take their mandate directly from the Act and social work’s Code of Ethics. They can resist the debilitating pressure to define ‘need’ to suit the budget. Instead they can work honestly with service users to identify the resources they require for the level of well-being right for them. It is then for the budget manager to decide how much the council can afford. Budget managers will thus be transparently accountable for their decisions. Councils will be transparently accountable for any gap between needs and resources. No longer will councils be able to hide behind the ‘social worker’s judgement’.

This will, of course, throw a spanner in the works for councils. Taking the initiative will require clarity of thought and conviction. However, social workers that do may force the systemic changes that can at last give substance to the rhetoric of putting service users first.

The advice has a section on how councils can reciprocate positively. Enlightened councils will want to.

The advice has been prepared by Colin Slasberg, with contributions from SWAN. Colin is a social worker with a career in operational and strategic management and a body of published work. He can be contacted at

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