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BASW Cymru questions Welsh Government plan for a College of Social Care and Social Work

BASW Cymru has questioned why the Welsh Government has announced a plan for a College of Social Care and Social Work, run by the regulatory body for social workers, the Care Council for Wales.

Coming just two years after responding to the development of The College of Social Work in England by ruling out a similar approach, Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services, revealed the proposal at the National Social Services Conference in Wales.

Describing the move as “a potential U-turn”, BASW Cymru Manager Robin Moulster expressed particular concern at the idea of a College for professional development being led by the regulator for social work. He said: “This is profoundly confused thinking between the job of the regulator and the role of the professional organisation run by the profession.”

Outlining the plan at the event on 27 June, Ms Thomas said: “As we look forward to the next decade we are minded to consider how the Care Council for Wales can evolve its development role towards a College of Social Care and Social Work in Wales in order to meet the workforce development challenges that lie ahead. We believe this could deliver the next step change in the professionalisation of our workforce without placing any new pressures on our limited resources.

“Its functions could include, for example, overseeing standards and development and learning schemes, acting as an information hub for best evidence-based practice, providing a focus for social services improvement schemes, supporting the development of research capacity and applied research, and assisting policy makers locally and nationally in developing best practice.”

BASW Cymru responded by holding initial talks with senior figures within the Welsh Government to discuss its concerns. The Association also issued a statement referring to a Welsh Government White Paper in early 2011, Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action, in which it was stated: “Therefore we are not, as a Government, minded at this point to develop a National College of Social Work in Wales”.

The statement also questioned whether the initial plan might form part of a wider agenda than the development of a college. Mr Moulster said: “Is part of the hidden agenda to change the model of regulation for social workers and social care workers so that it is funded as a self-regulator by the profession, rather than government funded on behalf of the public? The government will need to come clean about their intentions.”

Commenting after his initial discussions with Government advisers, Mr Moulster added: “Whilst there may be opportunities to improve the quality of social care and social work in Wales as a consequence of new legislation and tightening budgets, BASW and BASW Cymru will not stand by and allow confused thinking to gag the profession or undermine its role and core ethical values.”

See full BASW Cymru statement issued on 1st July 2013