Social work registration fees will not “immediately” increase when regulation of the profession is transferred from the HCPC to a new body, the government has said.
In a response to the education committee report into social work reform, the government said the new regulator’s running costs would initially be met through a combination of registration fees – set “at the current level” – and government funding.
“This government has invested significantly in social work and intends to keep doing so to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable are met.
“We would therefore not anticipate any immediate changes to the registration fees paid by social workers. Any plans to increase social workers’ fees in the future will be subject to full consultation and approval from parliament,” the response said.
Ministers plan for regulation to shift to a new government-controlled social work body in 2018. Legislation underpinning the change is included in the Children and Social Work Bill currently going through parliament.
The education committee said it was “unclear” why a change of regulator was necessary so soon after the General Social Care Council was shut down in 2012. “The government has already spent too much money changing regulatory bodies,” the committee report said.
The committee’s report, published in July, raised a series of concerns about the Department for Education’s wider reforms of children’s social care. It said the change programme could destabilise the workforce and did little to address “endemic” retention problems in the sector.
In its response, the government addressed the committee’s recommendations through referencing existing reforms, specifically fast-track training, accreditation and the proposed regulator.
It rejected concerns that the creation of a government-controlled regulator “will further marginalise the voice of social workers” and insisted regulation needed “urgent reform”.
“We need to set credible standards which address evidence of failings in practice and set clear expectations of the profession.”
“Reforming regulation offers an excellent opportunity to address concerns relating to the need for a comprehensive CPD framework for social workers,” the government response said.
It also rejected recommendations that there should be more generic social work elements in the Frontline and Step Up social work training programmes, but said it would research the long-term retention and progression of participants.