The British Association of Social Workers is to devolve more power and resources to committees representing the four UK regions.
The move was decided at the annual meeting of BASW’s council on 12 November, where members gave the go-ahead to reduce the number of members on the association’s governing council from 24 to 16.
Chief executive Hilton Dawson said the restructure was designed to reflect significant changes in the social work landscape since devolution in the last 10 years.
Dawson said: “In certain circumstances, the devolved associations like Northern Ireland are going to be labelled as the Northern Irish Association of Social Workers.”
BASW, which represents 12,200 social workers across the UK, already has three full-time officers and one part-time officer for England.
But there are concerns about the lack of representation in Wales, where BASW Cymru chair Keith Drury is launching a campaign to recruit celebrity activists.
Dawson also urged the government to ensure the proposal for a national college of social work covered the whole of the UK and not just England.
“It would be fatal to start as an England college and then try to sell it to other countries,” he said. “It needs to be a UK college from the start.”
The Social Work Task Force recommended a national college earlier this year to help improve standards through training and qualifications, influence policy and provide a national voice for the profession.
Dawson admitted to Community Care in an interview last month that its creation could lead to “some parts of BASW being split off,” but added that the association would retain key functions such as its advice and representation service.