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Social Work Regulation: Contexts and Questions

Reflections on the Development of Regulations of Social Work and Social Workersin the United Kingdom

BASW is pleased to contribute these policy proposals and substantial background papers to the debate about the future of the regulation of social workers across the United Kingdom. The Children and Social Work Act (2017) will result in yet another change to the regulation of social workers in England. BASW expects to be involved in shaping the new regulator, to be known as Social Work England. BASW is involved in the different debates about improving regulation of social workers in all four countries of the United Kingdom and is an active contributor to the European and global debates.

BASW aims to agree common principles of regulation which can apply throughout the UK, taking account of international experience. We aim to reach agreement about these principles with the key stakeholder groups, including government, and to feed these ideas and principles into the debate about the shape of the new regulator in England and the arrangements for regulation in the other countries.

This paper is the third stage in that process, identifying the key questions to be addressed and proposing a set of principles and arrangements which flow from the questions. The questions had been tested with a number of BASW colleagues in the first round of consultation. BASW national committees and officers were then invited to join the policy discussion. BASW also facilitated a wide-ranging debate in the UK Social Work Standing Conference on 19 June 2017 about the future of regulation and the validity of the identified questions; the participants were supportive of the approach being taken whilst acknowledging the need for time to reflect on the appropriate way forward. BASW is represented on the Advisory Group on the creation of Social Work England convened by the Department for Education.

This paper was commissioned by the BASW Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee from David N Jones, one of its members, who has been involved in the development and management of national policy in these areas since 1985 in a number of roles. He has been assisted by former members of the regulatory bodies, several BASW members and BASW staff, including the National Officers. The Association is grateful to David and all members and staff who have shared their knowledge and experience generously and voluntarily.

We call on social workers to engage with the debate about the future of our regulators and trust these papers will help to shape that process.