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Welsh Bill secures BASW’s aim of protecting social work functions

BASW Cymru has described plans to legislate to legally enshrine the role of social workers in specific tasks, including adult and child protection work, as “an extremely welcome and positive step for the profession that we have long campaigned to see happen”.

The plan emerged as the Welsh government launched a three-month public consultation on the Social Services (Wales) Bill. BASW Cymru called on social workers to make their views known on the proposal which it said would satisfy a key component of BASW Cymru’s Manifesto for Social Work, published in January 2011, in which the Association called for social work functions to be legally defined to ensure service users were better protected from the use of unqualified staff.

The Welsh government’s consultation document, published on 12 March, makes a clear move in this direction, stating explicitly: ‘We wish Welsh ministers to have specific powers to make regulations that reserve certain activities – such as child protection or adult protection investigations – to staff with certain specified qualifications. We want this to link to the Council’s [Care Council for Wales] register.’

BASW Cymru manager Robin Moulster said the development would be warmly welcomed by social workers in Wales. “This is the biggest breakthrough for social work in Wales for decades and comes in the wake of determined lobbying by BASW Cymru. We called for exactly this in our Social Work Manifesto for Wales. There are other aspects of the consultation which we still feel need more work but this move to protect the role and function of social work will be welcomed by practitioners across Wales.”

Social workers wishing to comment on the proposal have until 1 June to make their views known. A specific question within the Social Services (Wales) Bill consultation document asks respondents to consider: ‘Do you agree that Welsh ministers should have powers to make regulations that reserve certain activities to staff with certain specified qualifications?’

Outlining the twin aims of ‘further professionalisation of the social work and social care workforce’ and ‘improved outcomes for people who use services’ the consultation paper said the move would ‘underpin the professionalisation of the service and ensure that services are delivered by staff with the right skills and qualifications for the tasks that they perform’.

The plan indicated that while social workers would be the first group of professionals to have certain functions reserved, the move could form a precedent that would see it applied ‘to key staff and managers in different types of service’.

To share your comments with BASW Cymru for feeding into the consultation process, please email r.moulster@basw.co.uk