BBC’s Emma Barnett Calls Children’s Minister Robert Goodwill ‘Woefully Ignorant’ In Exchange Over Social Worker Numbers

The Children’s Minister has been called “woefully ignorant” by BBC presenter Emma Barnett, after he admitted he did not know how many social worker vacancies there were.

During the Radio Five Live interview on Friday, Robert Goodwill did not give a straight answer when Barnett asked what percentage of social worker posts for children were vacant across the country.

Goodwill first said it was difficult to know because some councils report vacancies but employ agency staff to fill them, before he conceded, under dogged questioning from Barnett, that “we don’t actually have that data”.

“You’ve just said to me you’ve basically got no idea. That’s what you’ve just said to me as the Children’s Minister,” Barnett said during their exchange.

“The reality is the minister in charge of this, which is you Robert Goodwill, is woefully ignorant about the state of those vacancies.”

Goodwill went on the programme to defend the Government’s investment in children’s care.

When Barnett first asked the question about the number of vacancies, Goodwill said: “I can’t give you that figure now… I know there are shortages.”

Barnett asked for a “rough idea” but when Goodwill still wouldn’t give figures, she cited a BBC report from April 2016 that found nearly 20% of children’s social work jobs in England were vacant and asked him directly: “Is it more or less than that?”

Goodwill did not give a direct answer and tried to emphasise again how the agency staff issue made it hard to be sure what the figure was.

Barnett told him: “You can do some maths. You’re very fond of saying Labour benches are filled with politicians who don’t know their maths or do their sums.

“But you actually need to solve the problem and you can’t solve the problem without data. You’ve passed the buck on pretty much every question I’ve asked …read more

Source:: The Huffington Post – UK politics

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