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Social work regulation in England


Social Work England

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 was granted Royal Assent on Thursday 27 April 2017. This means that the Act can now be used to bring about the changes outlined in it, including establishing a new regulator for social workers in England, named in the Act as ‘Social Work England’.

Social Work England will set standards for social workers and ensure public protection. It will be accountable to both the Department for Education and the Department of Health and be overseen by the Professional Standards Authority.

What happens next?

We do not have a detailed timetable for the transfer of regulatory functions from the HCPC to Social Work England. However, the recruitment process for the CEO and Chair of the new body has begun. The supporting recruitment information says ‘we do not expect Social Work England to begin regulating the profession before Spring 2019’.

Secondary legislation detailing what the new regulator will do must be passed in Parliament and parliamentary time needs to be found for this. In the meantime, we will continue to regulate social workers in England and will work with external stakeholders to ensure that the transfer of regulation to the new regulator is as smooth as possible.

Background information

Government, with the approval of Parliament, decides how and which professions are statutory regulated in England.

In January 2016, the former Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, announced her intention to establish a new body for social work as part of wider reforms to the children’s social care system. The previous government then progressed this intention through the Children and Social Work Bill in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

Following publication of the Bill, the Education Select Committee launched an Inquiry on the government’s approach to children’s social work reforms. The Committee's report and the Governments response to the report can be found here.

Continuing work

Standards of proficiency for social workers in England: Following external engagement activities and a public consultation, these standards have been revised and published with a number of changes and additions to reflect developments in education and practice.

Standards of education and training: Our revised standards of education and training were published in July 2017. From September 2017 any education and training programme going through the approval process, including social work programmes in England, must meet the revised standards.

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