The role of law in welfare reform: critical perspectives on the relationship between law and social work practice


Suzy Braye, School of Social Work and Social Care, The Sussex Institute, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QQ, United Kingdom E-mail:


This article considers the complex relationships between law, welfare policy and social work practice, in order to address the question of what role legal frameworks might play in achieving welfare policy and professional practice goals. It traces how law has developed as a core component of professional practice, and challenges some of the false expectations placed upon it. It then draws on findings from an international knowledge review of law teaching in social work education to propose a model for understanding how professional practice incorporates legal perspectives, and proposes ways in which legal frameworks can provide positive and constructive vehicles for accountable practice.