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‘Social Work England’ – The Government’s Proposed New Social Work Regulator
The Government have introduced plans for a new social work regulator, to take over the control from the current regulator, the HCPC.
The HCPC regulate 16 professions in total, ranging from dietitians to radiographers, however many in the sector believe that a specialist profession such as social work requires its own dedicated regulator. It is hoped that the new regulator would have the resources and expertise to stand up for the profession, and enforce professional standards.
‘Social Work England’ is the provisional name given to the regulator, which is being proposed by the Department for Education to regain a voice for social workers and to influence the standards of social workers and social work courses.
Social Work England will be partially government funded with plans to induce £10m in set up costs which ministers have agreed to meet, alongside injecting up to £16m for the running costs by 2020. The registration fee for social workers is not set to go up, and if plans are put in place for any fee increases to be implemented, this would have to be run through ministers first.
All professional standards that the regulator wants to implement will have to be approved by the education secretary and the health secretary before they are put into action and if the overall plans for the regulator are approved by parliament the responsibilities will be carried over from the HCPC to the new regulator in September 2018 (the provisional launch date).
A Department for Education spokesperson told Community Care: “Excellent social workers transform lives and we want to raise the status of the profession by setting up a bespoke regulator.”
“Social Work England will be responsible for setting standards for social workers – from initial education and training to professional standards and on to post-qualification.”
The proposal has been a hit with social work leaders overall, however there are some concerns with regards to the level of independence that the regulator has. Ruth Allen, Chief Executive of BASW has said that there needs to be “clear accountability to parliament as a whole, and that needs to be explicit.”