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Social work in England
Social work regulation update
The UK Government, with the approval of Parliament, decides how and which professions are statutory regulated in England. The former Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, announced in January 2016 her intention to establish a new body for social work as part of wider reforms to the children’s social care system.
Children and Social Work Bill
The Children and Social Work Bill [HL] was announced in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday 18 May 2016.
Ahead of Report stage of the Bill in the House of Lords, the government tabled several amendments to the Bill and also published a supplementary policy statement. The Bill was subsequently amended to include proposals for a new social work regulator.
Social Work England
- The new regulator will be called Social Work England and will be accountable to both the Department for Education and the Department of Health. The body will be overseen by the Professional Standards Authority.
- Social Work England will set standards for social workers and ensure public protection.
- The proposed date for the new regulator to launch is “during September 2018”. The government acknowledges that this is ambitious and is likely to only begin with education and training standards before moving to professional standards and CPD.
What happens next?
MPs last considered the Bill in a Public Bill Committee. The Committee concluded on Tuesday 17 January 2017.
Draft regulations to establish any new arrangements will need to be consulted upon and, together with a report on the consultation outcome, be approved by both Houses of Parliament.
Our latest Council paper outlining the current situation can be found here
Until the situation changes, we will continue to regulate social workers in England working closely with the social work sector and Government to deliver public protection by ensuring efficient and effective statutory regulation.
Education Select Committee
Following publication of the Bill, the Education Select Committee launched an Inquiry on the Government’s approach to children’s social work reforms. We provided a briefing to this Inquiry and Marc Seale, our Chief Executive gave evidence to the Committee on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
The Committee published its report following the inquiry on Wednesday 12 July 2016. The section most relevant to regulation and the HCPC is Chapter 6 Professional body, regulation and leadership. In the report, the Committee called upon the government to rethink plans to set up a new social work regulator and instead focus on facilitating the development of a professional body. The Committee has since published the UK Government's response to the inquiry.
Standards of proficiency: Following a range of external engagement activities, we conducted a public consultation on proposed amendments to the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England. Feedback has since been collated and the standards have been revised, with a number of changes and additions made to reflect developments in education and practice.
Standards of education and training: We have recently concluded a consultation period for our Standards of education and training. Responses will now be collated in order to produce a document fit for purpose. Proposed changes included strengthening and clarifying our requirements for practice placements. See the current standards here.