Qualifications overhaul demotes experienced social workers

Cumbria Council is being forced to cancel the contracts of 12
experienced social workers because their qualifications do not meet
new regulations, writes Derren Hayes and Nigel

The social workers – some of whom have worked for the council
for 25 years – are to be offered new jobs by the council but
these are likely to be at a more junior level with reduced

The council said it had been forced to make the decision because
the 12 workers’ qualifications are not recognised by the
General Social Care Council as valid for inclusion onto the social
care register – from next April all social workers in England
will have to be registered with the GSCC to practice.

Mark Clifford, Cumbria social services Unison representative, said
one of the workers had a degree in social work and welfare studies
while another had an MA in learning disabilities. He said they
would not accept lower paid jobs and called on the council to
continue employing them in their current roles but without the
title of social worker.

He said there was nothing in the Care Standards Act – which
includes legislation for the social care register – that
stipulates what a social worker can and cannot do.

However, Stephen Wilds, interim director of Cumbria social
services, said allowing them to do the same job was not an

“We would be acting outside the law. We can’t
re-designate them and let them carry on doing social work to get
around the act,” he added.

A GSCC spokesperson said the union plan would contravene the
protection of title rules that are to be introduced under the act.
She said the GSCC recognised 10 qualifications for entry to the
register, some dating back to the 1960s.

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