A government minister has criticised the British Association of Social Workers for pledging to form its own independent college of social work.
Earlier today, Community Care revealed that BASW’s council voted to ballot members on whether to launch its own UK college after concerns that the college being developed under the social work reform programme for England would not be independent of government.
BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson had previously said he was concerned the official college could become “another quango” as the start-up funding of £5m offered by government came with “strings attached”.
But children’s minister Delyth Morgan has insisted the official college would be “clearly independent of government” and has called the council’s decision “very disappointing”.
She said: “In its early stages of development, the college is rightly being driven by many organisations and practitioners from across the sector and BASW has played a full role in discussions so far.
“It would be very unfortunate if BASW were to decide it no longer wished to participate in this work creating a single voice for the profession.”
BASW’s alternative college would be funded by member subscriptions and fees from associated membership organisations. It has asked members to respond to the ballot before the end of April.
BASW has also expressed concern that the official college is currently being developed for social workers in England only, although delegates from the devolved governments in other UK regions have been taking part in meetings. Its own college would be open to practitioners across the UK.
The association said in a statement: “There is a risk of endangering the positive and cohesive forces of devolution by adopting a purely England-centred role and remit and therefore it is essential that the college is UK wide.”
But Morgan said: “The devolved administrations have been involved in the early stages and continue to take a keen interest as the plans develop.”
The functions of BASW’s proposed UK college of social work would be to:
• Strengthen social work to ensure service users get the highest possible standards of support
• Raise the standards expected of social workers, educators and employers
• Support a career structure which enables the most qualified professionals to remain in long term frontline practice
• Empower social work to control the future of services
• Educate the media and public as to the vital work undertaken by the social work profession
Is BASW right to ballot members on launching its own college? Have your say on CareSpace