§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what consultations he is having with local authorities and the Central Counil for Education and Training in Social Work concerning proposals to revise the system of training and assessment of approved social workers as defined by the Mental Health Act 1983;
(2) if he will undertake to provide additional funds for any extra training or assessment costs falling upon local authorities or the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work arising from the revised system of training approved social workers which takes account of problems resulting from the current industrial action;
(3) what is his estimate of the expenditure incurred by local authorities in training approved social workers under the Mental Health Act 1983.
§ Mr. John Patten
[pursuant to his reply, 16 April 1985 c. 162]: While we are not currently consulting on proposals to revise the training and assessment of approved social workers (ASWs), we are keeping in close touch with the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) and the local authority associations on the recommendations made in the joint working party's report last year. We hope that the integrated training and assessment system recommended in that report will be implemented successfully.
We do not collect information centrally on which to base an estimate of local authorities' expenditure on the training of ASWs. This training is part of authorities' normal programmes which have always been adjusted to cover detailed changes in services. The 1983 Act did not represent new duties for LAs, and authorities that were meeting properly their responsibilities under the previous legislation need not have incurred any significant increase in their costs. Any net additional expenditure would in any case have been covered by the provision in the 1983–84 rate support grant settlement to reflect new initiatives and pressures on the personal social services.
We have already increased the CCETSW budget in recent years because of the additional work load created by the ASW provisions. The increase allowed for spending of up to £200,000 in 1983–84, and £300,000 in each of 1984–85 and 1985–86. We shall continue to make any necessary additional financial support available to the council during the introduction of the new training arrangements.