Social Work England – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Social Work England?

Social Work England is the new, specialist regulator for social workers in England. They are an independent public protection body, setting professional, education and training standards for social workers.  Social Work England will also investigate and manage ‘fitness to practice’ cases brought against social workers.

Social Work England are working closely with the current social work regulator (the Health & Care Professions Council) to ensure a smooth transition from 2 December 2019.

All qualified social workers must register with the relevant regulator before they can practice social work.

View Social Work England's video on Twitter for a brief description on what they hope to achieve.

Who is on the board at Social Work England?

The Chair is Lord Patel of Bradford.

A qualified social worker, he worked in inner city Bradford and then established a number of Third Sector agencies working with those misusing drugs and those with mental health problems; later moving to academia working with a number of universities.

The Chief Executive is Colum Conway.

Colum became Chief Executive of Social Work England in September 2018. He is a registered social worker and previously led the professional regulator for social work and social care in Northern Ireland from 2013 to 2018. Prior to this, Colum spent six years as Chief Executive of a large not-for-profit organisation providing care services in all programmes of care across both jurisdictions in Ireland. Colum has worked in statutory family and child care services, early years policy, funding and service provision, and family systems support services in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

View the other board members at Social Work England.

Has there been any recent developments?

Social Work England have completed 2 consultations, see below for more information.

Appointment rules

The first consultation focused on how Social Work England’s appointment rules will operate within the framework set by the primary and secondary legislative framework and outlined some of the processes and procedures they will use operationally. The scope of the consultation covered:

  • the appointment of advisers by Social Work England;
  • the establishment of panels of advisers;
  • the role of inspectors appointed to inspect courses of education and training; and
  • requirements and restrictions in relation to those appointed as case examiners, investigators and adjudicators for fitness to practise proceedings.

The consultation referenced the following documents:

The consultation on appointment rules closed in December 2018. 

Read the BASW response to the Social Work England consultation on appointment rules.

Rules and standards

The second consultation focussed on the rules and standards, in relation to: Professional standards; Qualifying & education standards; Education & training rules; Registration rules and Fitness to practice rules.

View the documents on the Social Work England website that refer to the rules and standards consultation.

The consultation on rules and standards closed on 1 May 2019.

Read BASW's response to the Social Work England consultation on rules and standards.

What involvement have BASW had with Social Work England so far?

BASW is represented on the Social Work England Professional Expert Group and staff meet with representatives from Social Work England on a regular basis.

Find out what social workers need to know about the change of regulator by visiting this Community Care article.

Will we still be called upon to submit CPD?

We will be looking at a 2.5% sample of CPD to ensure that it is valid. You won’t be asked to upload any additional CPD if selected for validation, we will base this on the CPD that has already been recorded in your online account.

I haven’t had an email asking me to create an account, how can I access this?

Just go to www.socialworkengland.org.uk, click on the ‘My account’ button on the top right corner of the screen, and then use the link to create a password under ‘transferring from HCPC’. You then need to enter the email address which you used with HCPC – if you no longer have access to this, please email enquiries@socialworkengland.org.uk and include the following information so that we can update your email address on our system: name, registration number, date of birth, postcode, old email address (if known), new email address.

Why did it change from HCPC?

In its January 2016 paper 'A vision for change', the Department for Education announced it would set up a new regulatory body for social work in England. The new regulatory body would have a ‘wider remit’ to look at post-qualification, accreditation and CPD. From Monday 2 December 2019, regulation of social workers was transferred to us from the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). Please see https://www.socialworkengland.org.uk/about/what-we-do/our-role-and-legislation/ for more information.

Do annotated slides from training count as CPD?

It is up to you what you include as CPD. We’ve not specified an amount or type of CPD that you should complete. You should decide how much CPD you need to do, taking into account your personal circumstances and how you’re practising at the time. You are the best person to determine your own learning needs and we want to encourage your learning to happen in diverse, flexible and innovative ways that support your work. For more information about how to meet the CPD requirements, please see https://www.socialworkengland.org.uk/cpd/guidance/.

Can we have a set monthly amount taken by direct debit?

All remaining balances were transferred to Social Work England around the date of transfer. If you have a direct debit set up with HCPC you do not need to take any action. Please do not cancel your direct debit. Your payment from 1 October 2019 will be transferred from HCPC to Social Work England.

The next direct debit payment of £45.00 will then be paid on 1 April 2020. It should appear as ‘SocialWorkEngland’ on your bank statement. We will work with our direct debit provider GoCardless to manage all future payments and will email people to confirm the change in the coming weeks.

Is there a minimum number of hours training that should be completed each year?

We’ve not specified an amount of CPD that social workers should do in the first year, but we would expect to see at least one learning activity. We encourage social workers to decide how much CPD to undertake, taking into account their personal circumstances, their learning needs and how they’re practising.

Surely if CPD is required for renewal there should be a minimum standard?

In December 2020 we’ll carry out our first CPD validation. We’ll look at the records of all those selected for validation and check whether the CPD recorded by those selected shows how the learning activity has impacted on their practice.

Our approach to CPD validation in following years will be to make intelligence-led, incremental changes to help improve and refine our approach to CPD. This means that during 2020, we’ll work closely with social workers and others interested in social work to look at proposals for CPD from December 2020 onwards.

I’m not showing as BIA on the register, what do I need to do to have this added?

if you log into your account, scroll down to the bottom and then under ‘annotations’ there is a link to ‘request an annotation’, which then takes you to an online form where you can fill in details of your AMHP or BIA qualification and attach supporting evidence e.g. exam certificate.

Can you upload certificates etc as evidence of CPD?

Yes, you can upload CPD evidence via the CPD templates in your online account.

What happens if an organisation does not provide CPD opportunities? Is there a requirement to provide these for staff?

As a registered social worker, it is your individual responsibility to meet the professional standards including the requirements around CPD, in order to maintain your registration. The LGA sets standards for employers of social workers, which includes standard 6: Provide opportunities for continuing professional development, as well as access to research and practice guidance. See https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/workforce-and-hr-support/social-workers/social-worker-standards/standards-employers for more information.

How soon is a social worker notified that a fitness to practice referral has been made?

This varies depending on the nature of the concern, and the outcome of the triage process. Please see the guidance at https://www.socialworkengland.org.uk/media/1704/a-guide-to-fitness-to-practise_final.pdf (pages 9 to 14) which outlines the fitness to practice process.

For information and guidance for social workers under investigation, please see https://www.socialworkengland.org.uk/concerns/information-for-social-workers-under-investigation/.

Can we share lessons learned and themes from decision making and fitness to practice panels?

Yes, we are planning to publish a regular report which includes key themes from fitness to practice referrals. We hope to be able to provide some further information about this soon.

What happens if I no longer practice as a social worker but a fitness to practice referral is made?

If you are still registered as a social worker, then the fitness to practice rules will still apply to you. If you are no longer on the register then our fitness to practice rules would not apply.

Are hearings open to the public? Are the press in attendance?

The hearing before the adjudicators will usually take place in public. This means that members of the public, including representatives from the media, have the right to attend and report on proceedings.

In exceptional circumstances, evidence at a hearing will need to be heard in private, for example, to protect the private lives of certain parties involved, particularly if there are health issues involved Even in circumstances where evidence is heard in private, any decisions the adjudicators make, and the reasons for them, still need to be given in public.

Are there any available examples of a completed CPD entry?

This is not something that we are able to provide at present.

Do you have to use both the structured and unstructured forms to record CPD?

For each CPD record, you need to choose to use either the structured or the unstructured form.

What happens if a condition to practice is made but the organisation does not comply? E.g. by providing training

We can only set conditions for individual social workers, not for their employers. However, we are working closely with employers and with organisations such as the LGA to ensure that they understand how to support their social workers to meet the professional standards. See the answer to question 10 for further info.