The British Association of Social Workers has put forward a proposal which could result in its merger with the College of Social Work.
BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson said an agreement could result in the “total incorporation” of the association into the college. BASW’s members would have an opportunity to vote on such a proposal at the association’s next annual general meeting in 2011.
Following the announcement of the “convergence” plans, Dawson also held out the prospect of a less dramatic arrangement under which BASW provided some of the college’s membership services, such as a magazine and professional advice.
BASW’s council set out the proposal at a meeting last week and it will be considered by newly-appointed joint interim chairs of the college, Corinne May-Chahal and Maurice Bates, and its soon-to-be-established interim board.
“The College of Social Work is a groundbreaking and historic opportunity and it’s important that we get it right, which means examining what will produce the very best outcome for the profession,” said Fran Fuller, UK chair of BASW.
The college is proposing to offer its members services such as a magazine, professional advice, information about training and continuing professional development, professional indemnity insurance for independent social workers and individual representation in disputes with employers.
This would cost an estimated £5.6m per year.
To cover this without a partnership or convergence agreement with BASW and trade unions such as Unison, the college could have to charge membership fees of around £250 per year.
A partnership or service level agreement with a trade union would save around £2m per year, according to a member of the college development team.
“We strongly believe that by working with trade unions and BASW on a collaborative basis, we will be able to provide a comprehensive and affordable offer to potential members of the college,” said Stephen Goulder, director of corporate services and workforce development at the Social Care Institute for Excellence, which has been facilitating the college development group.
“The college development group believes that the profession should come together to create the College of Social Work, so that it can represent social workers as a whole.”