GSCC questions call for specific social work code of practice

The General Social Care Council has questioned the government’s decision to establish a separate code of practice for social workers, as opposed to all social care staff.

The call came in the government’s response to Lord Laming’s review of child protection, published today, and followed a call from the Social Work Task Force to establish a separate code for social workers.

Social work-specific code

In its interim findings, also published today, the task force, which has been set up to examine how the profession’s status and quality can be raised, called for the GSCC to develop a code that was “specific in addressing social work”.

It also said the GSCC should be “proactive in ensuring that social workers and their employers understand and are familiar with the code and what it means”.

On the back of this, the government said it would work with the GSCC to establish a new code of practice for social workers by October.

‘Value in single social care code’

However, GSCC chair Rosie Varley said: “We believe there is value in having one code of practice applicable for all social care workers who should all be held to account for the same set of standards. We would be interested in understanding the rationale for a separate code.”

The GSCC’s code of practice requires social care workers in England to protect the rights and promote the interests of users and carers, uphold public trust in social care services and be accountable for the quality of their work and for improving their skills.

Though currently only social workers can face sanctions for breaching the code – as they are the only registered group of social care staff in England – it applies to all social care staff.

More consensus over employers code

There was more consensus over Lord Laming’s call for the code of practice for social care employers to be placed on a statutory footing, making it enforceable, something the GSCC has long argued for.

The task force said it was “critical” for employers to be held account for the support they put in place for the workforce and that legislating on the code would “play an important part in this”.

The government said it would seek to “legislate appropriately at the earliest opportunity”.

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