Unison has written to employers in England urging them to reimburse social workers for their registration fees, which will rise to £76 per year when the Health Professions Council (HPC) takes over the register in August.
The General Social Care Council (GSCC) currently charges £30 per year, but the HPC does not receive government funding so its fees are higher.
Unison unsuccessfully lobbied ministers for a phasing-in of the fee increase, pointing out that most local authority social workers are entering the third year of a pay freeze.
“In the absence of any movement from the government on this issue, I believe the time is right for local authorities to make a gesture to their social workers by helping them absorb this fee hike,” wrote Heather Wakefield, national secretary of Unison’s local government service group, in the letter to employers.
“If you do not currently reimburse fees for social workers, we are asking you to introduce a scheme which at the very least offers reimbursement of the difference between the current and the new fee, for at least as long as the pay freeze endures.”
In a joint response to the letter, the two associations representing directors of children’s and adult services said they had expressed “considerable concern” to both government and the HPC over the hike in fees.
But they added: “It is, however, a decision to be made by individual employers whether or not to provide support to their social work staff on registration fees, although we recall that when registration was introduced by the GSCC, it was handled well by employers.
“Both our associations (the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) are working with the HPC and GSCC to help ensure that a similarly effective outcome can be ensured in this instance.”