Social workers in England face continuing uncertainty over how much they will be expected to pay to register next year, the Health Professions Council has admitted.
It is thought they may be charged £76, the sum now paid by members of the 15 health-related professions the HPC oversees.
But a decision cannot be made until it is known when responsibility for the register will transfer from the General Social Care Council, said HPC chair Anna van der Gaag.
Under the Health and Social Care Bill, the transfer had been set for April 2012. But this was pushed back to July as a result of the government’s three-month “NHS listening exercise”.
In an interview with Community Care, Van der Gaag said: “All we know is that [the transfer] will be no earlier than July; it’s entirely dependent on the parliamentary timetable.”
Van der Gaag said she recognised social workers may not be “terribly clear” about how much they will have to pay and why, but that it was better for the HPC to wait until it had a definite date for the transfer.
She also noted that the delay had given the HPC and GSCC more time to achieve a smooth transfer.
“Uncertainty is always difficult when you’re moving to a new system,” she said. “On the other hand, we have all benefited because we have had more opportunities for meetings and discussions.”
Social work students will also have to wait until next year to find out whether they will be expected to register with the HPC, Van der Gaag confirmed.
The HPC has agreed to undertake an impact assessment and public consultation on whether to register students within six to nine months.
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