Social workers expressed their indignation at Community Care Children & Families Live 2011 after the prospect of having to pay twice to keep their place on the social work register was raised.
At a session explaining the plan to move the social care register from the General Social Care Council to the Health Professions Council, they were told that differences in the renewal approach of the two organisations could result in them paying twice next year.
The GSCC operates a rolling register where individuals renew on the same date each year but the HPC uses a fixed date system where every professional renews their membership of the register on the same day.
Sherry Malik, deputy chief executive at the GSCC, and Mark Potter, stakeholder manager at the HPC, confirmed that this would mean that social workers who have to renew their registration next year before the transfer will have to pay the GSCC fee of £30 and then renew their registration again with the HPC at a cost of £76.
For example a social worker who renews their registration with the GSCC in April will need to pay out again in July when the HPC takes over management of the register bring the total for the near to £106.
One audience member said he felt he was being “unfairly treated” while another said: “I feel aggrieved, we do not have a choice – it is like a monopoly.”
Following the session, a member of CareSpace noted that student social workers could even end up paying three times within 12 months. Once to renew their student registration, again when they qualify and a third time when the HPC takes over.
Malik said she recognised the unfairness but said that the cost of calculating each individual’s payment would be prohibitive and added that the responsibility for the decision lay with the Department of Health.
Both speakers also urged social workers to ensure that they keep the GSCC informed of any changes to their contact details in the run-up to the transfer so that they did not miss vital information that could affect their registration.
The British Association of Social Workers said it is raising the matter with ministers, including health secretary Andrew Lansley, and plans to launch an e-petition to draw the issue to the attention of Parliament.
“Local authority social workers across England have endured several years of pay cuts, pay freezes and reduced car allowances and social work is not a well paid profession,” said Ruth Cartwright, BASW’s England manager. “Increased demand for services and the freezing of recruitment has also led to low morale, excessive unpaid overtime and fatigue. The last thing social workers need now is additional expenses to register as professionals.”
In a letter sent to ministers, BASW criticises how social workers could be expected to pay for registration more than once next year and the rise in the registration fee from £30 to £76 a year.
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