Less than 1,500 social workers left at risk of removal following last-minute registration surge before deadline

Provisional Social Work England figures show 93% of practitioners have successfully renewed registration, with 1.5% yet to fulfil requirement to upload CPD, after thousands complete process in final few days

November 30 written on a calendar to remind you an important appointment.
Photo: xtock/Adobe Stock

Less than 1,500 of England’s social workers are at risk of removal from the register, after thousands of practitioners made a last-minute rush to upload CPD to their Social Work England accounts before the 30 November deadline to renew their registration.

Provisional data released by the regulator revealed that, as of 12:01am on 1 December, 93% (90,402) of practitioners who needed to renew had successfully done so.

A further 1,444 social workers (1.5%), who applied to renew but failed to fulfil the requirement to upload at least one piece of CPD, will now be emailed by the regulator and asked to do so by 21 December.

If they do not, they will be removed from the register, unless they can demonstrate exceptional circumstances that prevent them from doing so. Exceptional circumstances for these social workers will only be considered for this 21-day period, not prior to 1 December.

Meanwhile, 5,309 practitioners, or 5.5% of the registered population, did not submit a registration renewal (either at all or only partially) and will therefore be removed from the register. This is in line with previous years, with 4,000 to 6,000 practitioners leaving the register each year.

Last-ditch surge 

The results mark a significant turnaround from the situation on the morning of 26 November, when only 74.2% (72,937) of eligible social workers who needed to renew their registration had successfully done so, with a further 10% (9,664) having applied but not uploaded CPD. The figures prompted calls from directors and union leaders for Social Work England to extend the deadline, which it rejected.

There followed a blitz of activity which saw almost 18,000 social workers complete the renewal process in the final five days.

A technical issue yesterday meant that some people were wrongly told that they had missed the deadline and then had to pay the restoration fee (£135) as well as the £90 registration fee if they wanted to stay on the register. Social Work England said the issue affected a very small number of people and anyone who was affected has been contacted and they will be refunded.

‘Testament to the profession’

Philip Hallam, executive director of registration, quality assurance and legal at Social Work England, said: “We would like to thank all social workers who have applied to renew their registration on time. It is a real testament to the profession that the vast majority of social workers have completed their renewal application and uploaded at least one piece of continuing professional development (CPD), despite the very challenging circumstances of the pandemic.”

In the coming days, Social Work England will email social workers who made a renewal and let them know the outcome of their application. Social workers who did not meet the deadline but do wish to restore their registration and continue practising across the duration of this year should now follow the restoration process.

While there is currently a temporary register of former social workers who have left practice since March 2018 but are able to return to the profession to bolster capacity to fight Covid-19, the regulator has said this would not be open to those removed because they failed to upload CPD.

Hallam said: “Social workers who have completed CPD but not completed their renewal application may be considered for temporary registration. However, this will not happen until at least January. We advise them to contact their employer immediately as it is illegal for anybody not on the register to use the title of social worker.”

First year of annual registration 

The end of the registration period also marks the end of Social Work England’s first year as the profession’s regulator, and the first time social workers have been asked to renew their registration on an annual basis.

The process has faced criticism from some practitioners, initially due to social workers experiencing technical problems uploading CPD to their accounts and, more recently, because of the need to do so in the midst of a pandemic. Others have defended the process as a way of demonstrating professionalism, with some suggesting the CPD requirement was, if anything, too low.

Sarah Blackmore, Social Work England’s director of strategy, policy and engagement, said the regulator would look at the process it had just been through, take any learning from that and build it into how it does things in future.

“But in terms of the engagement that we’ve had and the discussions that we’ve had with social workers, we are again very grateful to them for coming on the journey with us but also very reassured by the feedback we’ve had because it has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said.

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37 Responses to Less than 1,500 social workers left at risk of removal following last-minute registration surge before deadline

  1. A Man Called Horse December 2, 2020 at 9:32 am #

    The Government have total control of Social Workers now via their puppet Social Work England. We are viewed as worthless by them, zero pay rises will now be the new normal as Austerity part 2 commences. SWE will now ratchet up the pressure on Social Workers who are now going to face ever more tighter regulations and conditions to stay in their job. Not long before anyone showing any empathy towards the millions of paupers they have created will be considered unfit to practice. I hate this Government for what it is doing to my profession and what it is doing to large sections of its own population.

    • Beth December 4, 2020 at 1:25 pm #

      Well said the word HATE being important in description as no other word will do.

      • Anonymous December 7, 2020 at 9:47 pm #

        Absolutely agree.
        We have to evidence the donkeys work we do whilst having surmounting amount of work and writing to have any form of enjoyment.

  2. Mercy December 2, 2020 at 10:08 pm #

    I recently left the Social Work profession after 22 years, and I know I made the right decision, as my mind and body were no longer coping with the workload pressure and stress. CP Social Work has become especially dangerous in the UK, as there is no care, concern, or support within the management structure / organization for it’s front-line staff. Practices which are the ‘norm’, should be illegal, as conditions in CP Social Work, are similar to ‘sweat shop factory’ conditions abroad, and this is happening right here in the UK. It’s the ‘same old same old’, we have all talked about the miserable and terrible conditions, and nothing changes, so I decided I needed to be the one to make the changes, by voting with my feet. My most recent post involved starting work at 7am, and finishing at 11pm – every night, with only bathroom and coffee breaks. That is not living, it is existing, and a person would probably be better off in prison. After leaving the workforce and having time to reflect for the first time in years, I realized I likely had PTSD and depression, as well as having no social life, and few friends left, given I had given my whole life to this thankless profession. To any Social Worker who is going through the same, move on, upwards, and start enjoying and embracing life again,

    • A Man Called Horse December 3, 2020 at 11:15 am #

      I feel your pain, well said.

    • Brenda December 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm #

      I completely agree. I too after years of anguish, stress and feeling miserable all of the time made the decision that I had to leave Adult Social Work. I was terrified at the prospect of leaving but also even more scared that if I stayed it would literally physically and mentally kill me. I honestly believe that unless you have experienced working for years in frontline Social Work that no one can understand just how relentlessly pressurised it is. I left over 12 months ago and it was the best thing that I have ever done. My constant anxieties stress and feeling overwhelmed and miserable all the time has now lifted and I now feel relieved that I no longer feel defined by the work I do and instead I am thankful that I finally felt brave to just hand my notice in and say goodbye to a truly toxic career.

    • Beth December 4, 2020 at 1:28 pm #

      Social Work is like being in an abusive relationship.
      Admire you for walking away.
      So am not the only one who has lost friends under extreme pressure and stress.

    • Zoe December 4, 2020 at 6:42 pm #

      I feel like I am reading about myself in your post Mercy, I left the profession after eleven years in child protection. The demands of the job are perpetual and the culture of the work environment is one of blame and shame. I could not sacrifice any more of my self, mental well being and family and resigned. Best thing I ever did. Life is too short to have the life sucked out of you by that job.

    • Anonymous December 7, 2020 at 9:54 pm #

      Mercy thank you for your wise words.
      I am sorry that you have had to come to this point to realise the thankless job we do. I am sure it resonates with most of us, definitely me.
      I feel very saddened that we are not treated right as we should.
      In a profession where we are meant to be anti oppreive and anti discrimination, this is one of the most hypocricital profession I have ever come across.
      I left medical training a while ago to follow my calling in SW.
      Only to turn to more bureaucracy and full of bull that just keeps on hurting and causing more harm not only to the children and families we work with, but also our own lives, children, partners, and any relationships.

      Good luck Percy. I don’t think I’m strong enough to last 22 yrs. 10 is been bad enough for me.
      Hope to follow your footsteps soon.
      Best wishes in your next steps.

  3. S Singh December 2, 2020 at 11:12 pm #

    I hate this new requirement for renewal of registration every year. We are tested at several levels throughout the year. I don’t know what they want to achieve by this except exercising their authority to show that A BIG BROTHER’ is there

  4. Sue December 3, 2020 at 8:30 am #

    My main concern is our pay it is no longer in line with other professions such as nursing and teaching I am retiring in a year. After 20 years in the job.

    • A Man Called Horse December 3, 2020 at 11:23 am #

      Economic violence from the Tories is normal. Pay rise 2021 zero. Next year inflation busting Couciil Tax rises as they seek to plug the gap in their finances left by broken Tory promises. Next year I will also face inflation busting rises in my Housing Assoociation. A big thankyou to the Tories for all you are doing to make me even poorer in 2021 than I already am.

  5. Anita December 3, 2020 at 10:22 am #

    So proud of our regulator and the systems they’ve put in place to make us better social workers and protect the public. Surely the sensitive, compassionate practice of the Safeguarding social worker in Bradford is vindication of how story telling passing for CPD improves practice.

    • A Man Called Horse December 3, 2020 at 11:19 am #

      Social Work England is the Thomas Cromwell of the Government, its chief enforcer. Sooner or later its head will be on the block waiting for execution despite being a good little lap dog, give it time.

  6. Althea no longer a social worker December 3, 2020 at 1:29 pm #

    Well said. If confirmation was needed about who SWE really serve read Vicky Ford MP’s tweet.

    • PL December 4, 2020 at 2:35 pm #

      I can’t find Vick Ford MP’s tweet you refer to what does it say

  7. Fog December 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm #

    I think most SWs simply see SWE as a necessary and overall desirable step to have to take in order to practice as a SW. the CPD process is simple and flexible enough although some arguing that it is patronising should be careful what they wish for in my opinion.

    Being registered helps to ensure people can’t call themselves SWs unless they have been through a course of professional training and also helps kick out those whose practice is so poor they shouldn’t be allowed to practice.

    SWE aren’t our advocates – that is not their role but it would be odd as a profession if we didn’t have a regulator given all other professions do.

    As for the argument SWE is about lowering standards – I really don’t see that at all. The standards in place that guide our practice should be seen as our shield and not something intended to attack us.

    Pleased the majority saw sense and re registered

    • Arthur Dent December 3, 2020 at 3:40 pm #

      Upoading a shopping list of ‘reflections’ to avoid penury through unemployment isn’t exactly seeing sense is it? Scraping bottoms of barrels more likely.

  8. Inci December 3, 2020 at 3:36 pm #

    “Being registered helps kick out those whose practice is so poor they shouldn’t practice”, really? No evidence of that in Hertfordshire, Birmingham, Westminster council, Rotherham, Bedford is there?

  9. Neil Innes-Holt December 3, 2020 at 5:02 pm #

    Stop kidding yourself Fog, you are not a professional. Professions are founded on commonly agreed and distinct universal principles, something lacking for social work. I trained with and subsequently practiced alongside a collague who later became the Conservative Minister of State at the then Department of Health. Her definition of social work could not have been more polar to mine. Convictions based on anecdotes, behaviours shaped by fads, conjecture, theories and principles stolen from other disciplines and best of all most social workers never picking up a social work text one minute past training, does not sound like a coherent profession to me. We are vocational workers and should proudly own. The desperation to be validated as a profession based on the discarded afterthoughts of others is really unedifying.

    • JasonM December 4, 2020 at 1:52 pm #

      An odd collection of problems there, Neil. Sounds like you’re proud of the chaotic practice most will surely agree we need to get away from. Or was it ok for you but not to have a Tory doing the same? If SWE says ‘can you PLEASE read something’ then I approve. And we are doing it for public image too, to try to make clear that we DO know what we are doing, it’s not just our own egos and wanting a badge.

    • Fog December 4, 2020 at 2:10 pm #

      Your entitled to your opinion and I have listened to it – before putting it in the bin. Social work is a profession and from recent findings regarding the failures by AI algorithms to replace people SWs its likely that SW may be one of the last professions not to be taken over by AI l. Law, accountancy and medicine may well be the first to go.

    • Anonymous December 7, 2020 at 9:58 pm #


  10. Alison December 4, 2020 at 10:03 am #

    A so claimed professional regulator that doesnt advocate for the profession? What strange times we live in. Must let the BMA know to stop going on about doctors

  11. Courtney December 5, 2020 at 11:32 am #

    Neil, why have you punctured our pompous delusions of specialness?

  12. Samantha December 5, 2020 at 1:03 pm #

    Why the dread that replacing zero CPD standards would overwhelm social workers? Not suffering from an infreority complex, I would welcome and embrace rigour over patronising drivel. Surely that’s being professional isn’t it Fog?

  13. Neil December 6, 2020 at 10:06 pm #

    JasonM, missed the point I am afraid. These are what passes for social work today. What I am proud of is that I am not conned by the never beens of SWE. Wouldn’t be too sure that pleading social workers read “something” is a good way of gaining a positive public image.

    Fog, such defensiveness can’t be good for self esteem. I wouldnt be too sure that social work is not on the way into the bin given the commissioning of AI programmes by our bosses and the enthusiastic embrace of “new ways of working” by the likes of BASW and Chief Social Workers. You need to take a step back and ‘reflect’ on in which reality Law, accountancy and medicine withers away and social work endures. It must surely bother you that the social work Establishment you have such faith in, has nothing intelligent to say for what should pass for competence. Have you read how SWE is going to validate the 2.5% of uploaded CPD? Do you know who they have lined up to decide if their unspecified standards have been met? That even SWE are in the business of marginalising social workers might dent your faith. If you want to bin something, bin your love for a process that adds no value and worse, is a con on one and all. Still proud to be an artisan who embraces my vocation.

  14. Christine December 6, 2020 at 10:34 pm #

    Funny kind of profession Fog, that thinks of the 10 adjudicators , 5 should come from backgrounds in “quality assurance” in social work or ‘similar’ fields. Why such low confidence in practitioners that we can’t be trusted to ensure high standards in our collagues.

  15. Amaron December 7, 2020 at 10:09 am #

    What makes social work a marginal occupation in the struggle against social and economic injustice is the irrelevance of impotently railing from the sidelines that someone, anyone but never our leaders, engage in the hard graft of tackling marginalisation and disadvantage. How pathetic that we indulge our so called leaders in their endless self serving internal discussions which have zero impact on improving our working lives. If we were an empowered workforce we would not facilitate their bureaucracy,
    their so called ethics, but would be engaged in the real work of making a difference where it really matters. While some of us rail against austerity, some of us think reading the Beano improves standards, some of us rail against the artisans, some of us love the endless woe is me narrative and so it goes, real people, us too ofcourse, struggle to live securely. Sterile discussions about professionalism is the side show that I thought we had walked out of.

    • Unmaskthemasquerade December 8, 2020 at 6:11 pm #

      Here here. ‘Unacceptable’ do not resuscitate orders made in first Covid wave and some may still be in place, says CQC’ – enough said. The indulgence of leaders is complete and now in plain sight and the more fool (in thier eyes anyway) Social Workers carry on grafting the fire fighting.

  16. Jerry December 7, 2020 at 10:33 am #

    Let’s see, it’s not Doctor work, it’s not Lawyer work, it’s not Accountant work, but it is Social Work. Sorry for the pain this denial of status in the hierarchies causes my more “professional” colleagues.

  17. Izzie December 8, 2020 at 3:40 pm #

    80% computer work, 20% human contact, no need for AI its already here.

  18. Unmaskthemasquerade December 8, 2020 at 6:05 pm #

    I am one of the ones that failedd to meet the standard..albiet an administrative standard. The letter recieved is very harsh and sets out as many have commented here how unimportant you have become because of not meeting their ‘standard’. High and almightly moral of SWE, after all they have inherited my admistrative details form the HCPC to which I have never had an problem of administration. Now that this takes place in a year that is unprecedented and when ‘Do not resusitate orders’ (see community care article) have not been highlighted and challenged by SWE is a travesty and for me a reflection of each and every comment made above. The situation is dire and SWE at least can basque in applying the heavy boot of their authority. Somewhere down the line I may well be better off out. I may well anyway be out of a job, since they say in the letter, ‘we will also send notification to your employer that you have been removed from the register’ – just remember to point out the reason ‘You received an email from us on Friday 4 December 2020 noting that you were removed from the register because you didn’t pay you registration fee. This notification was sent in error’. The comedy goes on, I am not capable of meeting their arbitary deadline and they are not capable of working out what it is I have failed to do.

  19. Cecilia December 9, 2020 at 10:48 am #

    Never mind being professionals, ask yourselves why having, admittedly a fairly lightweight, MA in Social Work, does not qualify you to be a social worker but £90 and an unverifiable story about learning, possibly from a third rate TV depiction of ‘trauma’, does. Curious to know why a supposedly highly skilled set of professionals are so complicit in their own belittlement? Such low standards, such defensiveness, such poor self esteem. Still, in between throwing the ball for the dog to chase, I did reflect on what I could learn to inform my practice from the migration of Canada Geese. My unstructured CPD reflections on flight formation, resilience, team work, navigation skills, strategies for avoiding hunters, group living and leadership, will I think enhance my practice. Now, what is Informed Consent again?

  20. Jerry December 9, 2020 at 11:53 am #

    Surely even those of you who beleive in SWE have a twinge of doubt when you see them advertise for a Lead Investigator to oversee fitness to practice but there is no requirement in the skills set that the candidate has knowledge of social work let alone be a qualified social worker. Still beleive they are fit to regulate you?

  21. Ren December 9, 2020 at 1:23 pm #

    I wrote to SWE in July to inform them that having retired I wished to be voluntarily removed from the register. They have failed to do this despite several further communications from me. I note that I still appear on the register as someone who has ” failed to register” when in fact its SWE who have failed to remove me despite my asking them many times. I wouldn’t mind the slur and the incompetence but it is tedious having to reassure friends and collagues that I am ok and that there is nothing untoward. I apologise for using this forum inappropriately but I think SWE need to be publicly outed for their disdain and inability to do the most basic of tasks.

  22. Nathan December 9, 2020 at 4:58 pm #

    Social Work England, the Hotel California of regulators, you can check out anytime you want but you can never leave.