Minister gets tough over registration

Community care minister Stephen Ladyman is said to be appalled with
the low number of social workers who have so far signed up to the
social care register.

Ladyman was due to write to every local authority chief executive
this week ordering them to put pressure on heads of social services
to ensure most of their staff are registered over the next few

Community Care understands that Ladyman was livid with
recent figures, which showed only a quarter of social workers had
either registered or applied, and has asked for weekly updates.

He has also taken the unusual step of circulating figures for the
number of social workers registered in every authority, in effect
naming and shaming those slow to act.

The figures show that few councils have more than half of their
social workers registered or awaiting completion of their
application, while two-thirds still have less than one in 10
registered or outstanding.

Social services directors blame the slow uptake on difficulties
with the application form and process.

The General Social Care Council, which has already tried to
simplify things, has promised to make the process less bureaucratic
and asked for feedback on further changes it could make.

Other problems to affect the uptake include arguments over whether
councils should pay for social workers to register and concerns
that they will be forced to pay twice in the first year.

Jane Held, who is leading the project for the GSCC, warned social
workers that they would need to send in completed applications by
early December to be registered for the 31 March 2005 deadline.
After that date no one will be able to be employed as a social
worker without being registered.

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