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
    Burnham
    .

    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
    pay.

    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
    option.

    “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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