Journal Article

Going for Brokerage: A Task of ‘Independent Support’ or Social Work?

Peter Scourfield

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 3, pages 858-877
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Going for Brokerage: A Task of ‘Independent Support’ or Social Work?

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It is argued that for the agenda to ‘personalize’ social care in the UK to be successful, adequate systems of support brokerage need to be in place. Where brokerage is situated organizationally and ideologically is not inconsequential, both in terms of the accountability, profile and quality of the ‘brokers’ and the extent to which service users can feel properly in control of their own care or support. Many involved in support brokerage argue that independence from statutory bodies is a key principle. However, models of support brokerage have been suggested that propose brokerage as a possible function of the statutory social care sector. The paper traces how and why the ‘new’ language of brokerage has emerged in official discourses of adult social care. It also discusses the various ideas about what brokerage is and who is supposed to undertake it. It is considered whether support brokerage should be regarded as a form of social work, which is not currently the case. Were independent support brokerage to expand its role in the adult social care system, the question would arise of where that would leave social work with adults. These developments expose conflicts and tensions in New Labour's modernization agenda.

Keywords: Care management; social care; privatization; social support; community care

Journal Article.  7751 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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