Regulating Social Workers
On 14 January 2016, the Secretary of State for Education announced, in partnership with the Secretary of State for Health, the intention to set up a new regulatory body for social workers in England, charged with raising the status of the profession and driving up standards in social work education, training and practice. 1 This new bespoke social work regulator will take over the functions exercised by the existing regulator, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), in relation to social workers in England. Subject to the passage of the Bill, and with the appropriate set up time, Government anticipates that the new regulator will start regulating the profession from 2018.
Responsibility for social work policy is shared by the Department of Health, which takes a lead in respect of social work with adults, and the Department for Education, which leads policy relating to social work with children and families. The Government is firmly committed to maintaining a single social work profession with a single standard of qualification enabling registration. However, it also recognises that different parts of the profession face different challenges and that consequently a tailored response is sometimes needed. Within this context Government also supports the development of post qualification career pathways in specialist areas of practice. The new regulator will reflect this commitment and these priorities as it oversees the regulation of both child and family and adult social workers and initial and post qualification of social workers.
This programme is a key plank in both Departments’ reform agenda for wider children and adult’s social care reform. It supports Government’s ambitions to ensure that all children and young people are protected from harm, and vulnerable children are supported to succeed with the same opportunities as other children. For adults, it builds on the work of the Care Act 2014 and plays a key role in supporting the Department of Health’s vision to deliver an integrated health and care system which improves health and wellbeing and better coordinates services around the person.