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Social Work Services Strategic Forum

The Vision and Strategy for Social Services in Scotland: A one-year-on progress report

Social Services in Scotland: a shared vision and strategy for 2015-2020 was launched on World Social Work Day in March 2015 by the Social Work Services Strategic Forum. A Progress Report summarising the range of work which is under way to implement the strategy has now been published. While this is a five year strategy, it is clear that even at this early stage real progress is being made collectively by all parts of the sector.
Read the Vision and Strategy for Social Services progress report

The Minister who chairs the Strategic Forum, said:

“This report shows good progress on an ambitious strategy to deliver excellent social services, in a year where there have been many new developments across the sector. I welcome the update as it makes clear that there is a strong commitment and drive from all the partners to take this forward as part of the wide range of improvement and developments across public services in Scotland.”

What is the Forum doing now?

Following publication of its Vision and Strategy in March 2015, the Forum is now overseeing the implementation of the actions contained in the Strategy. These actions are grouped into four workstrands:

  1. Supporting the Workforce
  2. Understanding Service Quality and Performance
  3. Improving Use of Evidence
  4. Promoting Public Understanding

As papers and work are developed we will publish them under each workstrand.


The Social Work Services Strategic Forum was established in late 2013 as a partnership forum of key stakeholders from across the social services sector. It was established to develop and implement a Vision and Strategy for the Sector and represents a strong commitment to working in partnership across organisations and with government to deliver its vision for high quality and effective social services.

Who are the members of the Forum?

The Forum is chaired by the Minister for Childcare and Early Years and includes:

  • Scottish Government - Chief Social Work Adviser
  • Scottish Social Services Council – Chief Executive
  • Care Inspectorate – Chief Executive
  • Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) - Director
  • Social Work Scotland (SWS) - President
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) Senior Officer
  • Representative of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)
  • Scottish Care – Chief Executive
  • Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) – Chief Executive
  • Representative of Higher Education Institutions which deliver social work education
  • Practitioner representation at a minimum through UNISON and the Scottish Association of Social Workers
  • SG Directors/Deputy Directors – Integration, Children and Families, Justice, Joint Improvement Team, Health Workforce, Local Government.

The core membership is deliberately small, but Forum members will work proactively with wider networks.  Members will not only communicate the work of the Forum, but also lead pieces of work or be in involved in discussions on particular topics.



Ten years ago, the 21st Century Social Work Review took a fundamental look at all aspects of social work to strengthen its contribution to the delivery of integrated services.  The resulting Changing Lives report, published in 2006, has led to a wide range of actions by the Scottish Government, local government and providers.

But, continuing policy developments mean that a lot has changed since Changing Lives.  Public service reform, the recent review of community planning, self-directed support, integration of adult health and social care, GIRFEC and the Children and Young People Bill, Carers, the Early Years Framework and Early Years Collaborative and changes to the community justice system/criminal justice social work are just a few of the policy developments in recent times.  This is in addition to the continuing acute financial position, the increasing demands and expectations placed on all services, changes to the welfare system and the significant development in terms of demographics.

Given these challenges, the time is right to pause and consider how these changes are affecting the contribution that social services make to Scotland’s communities.  This is not another fundamental review of all aspects of social work, but is an opportunity to reflect and develop a single vision and strategy for social services in Scotland going forward.  This will include setting out the core values and principles which underpin the delivery of the wide range of services provided by local authorities and the voluntary and private sectors.