Most social workers would not pay more than £50 to join the College of Social Work, according to a survey of practitioners.
The co-chairs said this presented a “major business challenge” for the organisation as plans develop for its launch as a legal entity next year.
A major consultation on the priorities of the College found 63% of social workers, who earn around £30,000 on average, would only be prepared to pay £50 for annual membership.
A statement from the College of Social Work pointed out that other professional colleges charge £150-£366 a year. For example, the British Association of Occupational Therapists, linked to the College of Occupational Therapists, charges annual membership fees of £250. A spokesperson for the association said the average salary of members was around £27,000.
One of the co-chairs of the College, Maurice Bates, also raised concerns about the low participation rate in the consultation.
There were only 730 completed questionnaires in an online survey, and 285 social workers attended consultation events held over the last six months.
Of the online survey participants, 70% were not a member of any professional body, and Bates, who had already indicated that engaging social workers with the College would be one of his biggest immediate challenges, said: “The level of participation in the consultation exercise clearly demonstrates the already recognised general feeling of isolation and resulting disengagement within the profession.
“Although the response rate and attendance levels were lower than expected, we are satisfied that the feedback from participants was reflective of the views of the profession and will help us to shape the College of Social Work – one that represents the profession and is based on the needs and aspirations of the workforce.”
Among the other findings of the consultation, there was overwhelming support for proposals put forward by the original development group of employers, academics and social workers in March.
A clear majority of respondents agreed that the College should improve public understanding, provide a strong voice on behalf of the profession in policy debates, and improve the quality of post-qualifying training.
The College was recommended by the Social Work Task Force last year as a way of improving confidence in the profession. Its recently-appointed interim board will consider the findings of the consultation and produce a final business plan early next year.
- What would you pay to join the College of Social Work? Have your say on CareSpace
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