Show Some Big Society Spirit in South Birmingham, David Cameron


Rushed cuts to social work education funding are putting a leading family support and child protection organisation in South Birmingham under threat.

The SWEET Project, who provide vital support to vulnerable people as well as extensive training opportunities for student social workers, state the Government’s cuts to the “daily placement free” – the money they receive for each social work student on placement – will put their organisation at risk.

Since 2010 the social work training provider has relied on the fee to provide support and safeguarding to over 1000 children, families and vulnerable adults in a highly deprived part of the Birmingham, the “Three Estates.”

Just three years ago David Cameron praised the SWEET Project for their work in protecting children and families in South West Birmingham, and providing students with practical experience needed for social work. The organisation has helped train over 400 students from 26 universities from across the UK. But now the Government’s rushed cuts to social work education are putting that at risk.

Despite growing to be the largest student unit the country, SWEET were not made aware of the government consultation which proposed a cut to the daily placement fee. The organisation have expressed their anger at not being included in the process. It’s not right that Health Ministers didn’t tell the largest provider of student social work placements in the country this was happening, and gave them just 12 weeks to cope with the cut.

I’ve joined SWEET in their campaign to halt the speed of the reforms. We are calling for a new timescale to enable them to adapt to the cut in funding. It’s time David Cameron showed South West Birmingham some of his ‘Big Society’ spirit and set a realistic timescale for the budget change.

Jayne Cresswell, Director of the SWEET Project has also said:

“We were not involved in the consultation and so when we became aware that the daily placement fee was to be cut from £28-£20 per day per student, the news came as a complete and devastating shock. We are set to lose up to a third of our income.

Whilst we have known for some time that the fee could change we are angry that we have not be included in the Government’s decision making. If this cut goes ahead we will struggle to remain in business. We could be catastrophic for the local community which we currently support in South Birmingham. We are really fighting for survival.”

SWEET are the only provider of vital support services for children and families in the Three Estates and vulnerable local people will suffer without them. You can find out more about the SWEET Project here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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