Almost 5,000 social workers removed from register now able to practise to bolster Christmas capacity

Social Work England also rescinds decision to bar those removed from main register for not submitting CPD from practising under temporary register set up in response to coronavirus

Person pushing register key on keyboard
Photo: momius/Adobe Stock

Story updated 22 December

Social Work England has enabled the almost 5,000 practitioners removed from the register this month to return to practice to bolster sector capacity over Christmas and New Year. The 4,846 practitioners will be added to the temporary register, set up in March under the Coronavirus Act to provide employers with additional practitioners to draw upon to deal with demand spikes and staff depletion during the pandemic.

The regulator had originally planned to temporarily register social workers removed from the main register – after not renewing by the 30 November deadline – in January, at the earliest, excluding those who had not uploaded any CPD to their Social Work England online account, as required for renewal. However, it has now brought the process forward and decided to include those who did not submit CPD in the light of the fast-evolving Covid-19 situation.

A spokesperson said: “The original intention had been to add individuals who left the register to the emergency register in January 2021. The effect of this decision to add them now improves the protection of the public over the Christmas and new year period.

‘A fast-moving picture’

“Throughout this exceptionally challenging year we have all had to respond and adapt with great flexibility to ensure that good social work practice, and our work as a regulator in protecting the public, continues. For us at Social Work England that has meant being responsive to a fast-moving picture to ensure that social work services can be maintained safely and effectively across a multitude of settings.”

The move comes with two-thirds of social workers who responded to a Community Care survey predicting significantly increased pressures this winter than last and the latest spike in Covid-19 cases raising the prospect of significant increases in staff absence, particularly in the south of England.

So far, it appears employer demand for recruits from the temporary register, which automatically includes anyone who left the main register after March 2018, has been low.

Just 32 people, as of 18 December, have been recruited from the temporary register through the national Social Work Together campaign, launched in April and run jointly by the regulator and the Local Government Association (LGA), despite over 1,000 practitioners and 126 of the 151 councils signing up to the campaign. However, some others may have been recruited locally.

Temporarily registered social workers must comply with Social Work England’s professional standards – besides those relating to CPD – but are not liable for fees or subject to normal fitness to practise procedures. However, if concerns are raised about a practitioner, Social Work England will investigate and can remove the person from the temporary register if it judges their fitness to practise to be impaired.

Restoration to register

Social Work England stressed that anyone removed wanting to practise on an ongoing basis needed to apply to be restored to the main register, rather than rely on the temporary register – which will be scrapped once the government deems it to be no longer necessary.

The regulator’s spokesperson added: “Social workers can continue to practise with a temporary registration status, however temporary registration can be removed at any time and does not give a social worker the same rights as full registration. Any social worker wishing to continue to use the protected title of social worker must ultimately restore to the register or they risk being removed.”

Social Work England confirmed that, as of 17 December, 312 social workers removed for not renewing this year had been restored to the register – at an additional cost of £135 above their £90 registration fee. Those who had not completed CPD as part of renewal were asked to do so as part of their restoration application.

Meanwhile, the regulator has delayed notifying by email the 2.5% of practitioners who will have their CPD validated until 5 January, from the planned date of 22 December, after some practitioners said they would feel worried about it over Christmas if selected.

CPD validation 

Those selected will have their CPD examined by a panel of 10 assessors, five of whom are registered social workers. They will look at whether the first piece of CPD submitted by the practitioner is relevant to social work and includes a clear description of the impact on the person’s practice. If the CPD does not meet both criteria, the assessor will look at subsequent CPD submissions to see if any do.

If none does, then the CPD will be examined by a second assessor; if the result is the same, then the practitioner will be given advice on how their CPD could be improved and automatically selected for validation in December 2021 should they apply to renew their registration next year. However, if concerns are raised during the validation process, then the person may be referred for possible removal or fitness to practise procedures.

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22 Responses to Almost 5,000 social workers removed from register now able to practise to bolster Christmas capacity

  1. Alita December 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm #

    I thought CPD was crucial to safe practice and public protection? Once again those staff who have not done the work, have not met a deadline and shown total disregard for the registration process are allowed to get away with it. I worked 4 weekends to upload my CPD because I believed SWE propaganda. Why are these people safe and competent to practice today but will not be when the new deadline comes? This is why social work is a joke profession.

    • Pat Elliott December 22, 2020 at 1:40 pm #

      Yes I think this is a real issue and a disincentive to comply in the following years. Does not do the profession the justice that it deserves and all the hardworking people with it. Whatever your views of SWE as a regulatory body and HCPC before it, there’s a clear expectation to comply

    • Simon wade January 2, 2021 at 9:50 am #

      I wouldn’t say its a joke profession but there is a clear lack of accountability and a lack of unity and to be fair i thought that the cod forms were better and clearer than before and gave a chance to show some analytical thinking as befits a profession ? Sadly it seems either colleagues cant be be bothered or are so overwhelmed ? With the former we have the continuation of the revolving door ? Which is social workers leaving jobs having not completed their work leaving statutory tasks uncompleted but still getting a reference and the ticket to a new job .im left wondering what the governing body has to say about that ?

      • Antoine January 7, 2021 at 12:14 pm #

        They have nothing to say Simon. Numbers on the register matter more to them than competence.

  2. Rob December 22, 2020 at 1:14 pm #

    How many of these are people like me who have been trying to get off the register because we have retired and have mo.desire to return to practice? Surely SWE can’t be so strapped for cash that they need my £90?

  3. Fog December 22, 2020 at 2:21 pm #

    As if SWEs credibility wasn’t already in question! While the decision makes sense at a pragmatic level you would think that the so called qualified board members at SWE would have had sufficient planning and predictive skills (essential parts of the toolbox for a professional SW) to have recognised this in advance and not ended up looking reactive.

    Perhaps the board members need to ne submitting their own cpds to justify their roles?

  4. Nell December 22, 2020 at 9:18 pm #

    I no longer wish to be registered after 35 years. I’ve retired. However, the tone of saying I was ‘removed’ implies something else. They need to improve their communication. I also agree that people shouldn’t be let off the hook from CPD to put bums on seats.

  5. Jane December 22, 2020 at 9:39 pm #

    Totally agree, working excessive hours then sitting up in the middle of the night to get CPD completed. I feel that this government has no respect for the hard work and long hours. Putting the additional pressure of completing CPD only to say that it doesn’t matter!!!

  6. SJ December 22, 2020 at 11:20 pm #

    So my weekends of writing up CPD was utterly pointless as I could have ‘winged it’ like some chancer? SWE is showing it is unfit for purpose… Already….

  7. Mark December 23, 2020 at 7:52 am #

    I am due to retire from Social Work in July 2021 at age 66. I only teach it now after retiring from active practice as an AMHP/ASW for the last 30 years. Interestingly, lecturers on a Social Work programme dont have to be Social Workers or registered with anyone about anything. My request to de-register was due to SWE demanding £90 for me to be registered for six more months with no pro-rata reduction and still the demand for CPD. Since then I have been hounded for payment and CPD evidence and continue to receive cleverly intimidating text msgs from SWE. Instead of a polite thankyou I am made to feel like some sort of predatory offender. This approach by SWE promotes no professional trust or loyalty. What motivates SWE to behave this way?

  8. Alison December 23, 2020 at 10:38 am #

    It seems you can ignore the “requirement” to upload CPD as a condition of registration but be on the register anyway. Your reward? Continue to practice, you don’t need to pay your fees and the procedures for fitness to practice do not apply to you. Our reward? Threatened with losing our jobs, told we are bad, unsafe and unprofessional if we dont upload CPD, anxiety, using up precious private time putting in the slog to comply with “our” regulators demands. And at a bargain price of £90. The unfortunate social worker who for whatever reason failed to upload on time but did it late? Pay £90 and a punishment fee of £135. This is what happens when you have a group of bureaucrats concerned more with wielding power than listening to the people they oversee. Macho posturing by incompetents would be a farce if it didn’t demoralise so many of us.

  9. A Man Called Horse December 29, 2020 at 3:58 pm #

    Meanwhile, the regulator has delayed notifying by email the 2.5% of practitioners who will have their CPD validated until 5 January, from the planned date of 22 December, after some practitioners said they would feel worried about it over Christmas if selected.

    Very disappointing as the Government and their poodle SWE missed a golden opportunity to mess up Social Workers lives over Christmas by not selecting them on 22nd December. SWE needs to ram home its message we are your Daddy now.

    If you had selected the 22nd December I could then have reflected on my hatred of the Tories for my 2021 pay cut not pause and my unjust treatment by SWE.

    Really SWE have nothing to offer us no carrots just sticks.

  10. Mollie January 4, 2021 at 1:02 pm #

    A verbatim response in December from SWE to my request to be voluntarily removed from the register due to retirement which I notified them of last May:

    “As you requested to leave the register less than 10 days before the deadline to renew your registration on 30 November 2020 we were not able to process your request…and you were removed from the register for failing to renew your registration…..our regulatory framework does not allow us to update your status to voluntarily removed once you have been removed from the register for failing to renew. While your previous registration with SWE has been removed, you have been given temporary registration on the SWE register.”

    So I tell them I have retired, am not working as a social worker, cancel my fees, tell them I will not be uploading CPD as I do not wish to practice and their response is “you failed to register” without taking into account what I am telling them. Surely SWE can’t be so desperate to prove their ‘authority’ that they choose to wilfully bully ex-social workers? A little humble advice bureaucrats, you can’t punish someone who isn’t in your clutches anymore. Are these really the people who are meant to ensure social workers are competent and hold the power at conduct hearings? Although their timeline is wrong, I asked them to consider December as the voluntary removal request but was told as I have been removed from the register by failing to register(!) my status cannot be changed to voluntary request for removal due to retirement. I can apparently though request to come off the temporary register. Asked if when the temporary registration period ends my status will show I voluntarily came off the register due to retirement, answer came none. Presumably they will continue to classify me as not registered due to failure to register even though my request for voluntary removal was not acted on for 7 months because of the incompetence of SWE. Laughable that as a regulator SWE are incapable of understanding a request which doesn’t fit their bureaucracy, have no ability to respond flexibly and more worryingly have no idea how authoritarian they are. As a retired social worker with zero desire to practice this diesnt really matter to me but the incompetence is too much to swallow on behalf of colleagues whose lives and careers these never beens will continue to blight.

  11. Neal January 4, 2021 at 9:30 pm #

    Strangely similar wording in a reply to me also. Surely there can’t be a script can there? SWE hasn’t turned into a call centre has it? Like you Mollie my heart goes out to all our colleagues who have to suffer the diktat of these uncaring bureaucrats. What was that about “reflective practice” again SWE?

  12. Sam January 6, 2021 at 12:02 pm #

    I filled in the form SWE advised me to so I can be removed from the temporary register but am still on it. I am beginning to think that what matters for SWE is to ‘show’ how many social workers they are regulating than having an honest and transparent register. Are they on a per social worker paid funding stream?

  13. Selena January 7, 2021 at 10:29 am #

    I assume now we are in 3rd lockdown, SWE will scurry to find anyone who might have brushed against a social worker to bolster their register. How can a ‘regulator’ that can’t even meet it’s own ‘regulations’ be fit to judge competence and safety? Where is the evidence that those of us who have been put on the register against our requests are safe and competent practitioners? The only criterion for me being on the register is that I have not uploaded CPD thus not meeting the first standard. Apparently though I am deemed fit to practice anyway. This is absurd. More worryingly although I have not practiced for over year after being advised that I can not safely travel on public transport, should not drive and avoid stressful environments, SWE have ignored my request to come of the register voluntarily. How am I a fit and safe social worker? The response from SWE to me has been the same tautological nonsense other collagues have highlighted here. I asked this to SWE: ” will those people whose CPD was deemed not to meet the standard after adjudication be still on the register?” Apparently Ithat is confidential information. So much for transparency and a safety first approach. Which senior manager has the integrity to challenge this autocratic bureaucracy?

  14. Josh January 11, 2021 at 1:57 pm #

    Just add to the absurdity, I was told by a very polite but clearly exasperated SWE staffer that asking questions outside of “regulations” is “unhelpful”. My questions? “Why am I on the register when I emigrated, told you of my intention and stopped paying fees?” “Why am I on the temporary register when I have not practiced as a social worker in England since June 2018, did not upload CPD and am not paying my fees?” Answer, ” You remain on the register because of our regulations”. That should reassure the public that their safety is paramount.

  15. Karl A. January 13, 2021 at 5:00 pm #

    In trying to inform Social Work England that I no longer work as a social worker. (SWE): “We sent you an email reminding you to upload your CPD” Karl: “I told you I am no longer working and gave you my new e-mail details” SWE “We were unable to confirm your details as you did not respond to our e-mail” Karl: “you used my previous e-mail even though you had my new details” SWE: ” We are not able to change your details if you don’t reply”, Karl: “I couldnt reply as you used an e-mail address I no longer have”, SWE: “Because you did not reply you were put on the register”. This is not a paradoy, but a shortened transcript of a call with SWE. I showed it to my niece who in better times is studying drama at Bristol University. She told me it was the best bit of imitation Samuel Beckett she ever read.

  16. Elaine Furlong January 14, 2021 at 1:53 pm #

    I am sorry that so many people here feel Social Work England has hurt their feelings. Perhaps we can all calm down and reflect on the burden placed on SWE during a pandemic. They are only a year old and I think they are doing a fine job given pandemic conditions. What would you have all said if hundreds of vacancies became real overnight because selfish social workers refused to comply with the requirements? Attack your fellow social workers not the regulator that tries to put order into the chaos created by those workers. It’s time to stop whinging. Any fair minded appraisal of SWE would recognise they are not bullies. They do listen to us even if some don’t like what they are being told. All of us follow rules and so should SWE. Get over your bruised egos, judge them next year not now.

  17. Josh January 14, 2021 at 10:47 pm #

    Like your pals at SWE you too have missed the points being made here Elaine. Our egos are bruised not because we refused to comply with the bureaucrats and caused “chaos”, but because they won’t let us retire on our own terms. It’s like you wanting to get another job and your employer telling you you can not because their regulations don’t allow it. By any definition you care to cloak it under, that’s bullying. No one told us that we sold our autonomy and right to make our own life choices when we became social workers. Some of us don’t want to judge them this or any other year, we just want to be rid of their petty minds and pointless rules.

  18. Selena January 14, 2021 at 11:29 pm #

    Follow rules, follow orders, know the consequences. Sadly my bruised ego just can’t forget history. Sorry if that’s more whinging Elaine.

  19. Heather January 15, 2021 at 11:01 am #

    Failing to enforce the fundamental criterion for registration is hardly a good definition of doing a fine job. Allowing people to practice who shouldn’t is not showing resolve. I suppose it would not have done much for their credibility or their precious image if in 12 months they heamorraged hundreds of social workers off their register. Much better for SWE to pretend they are heroes battling a pandemic. Allowing social workers to practice without evidence of their suitability or competence is not putting order into chaos. It’s embarrassing and potentially dangerous. So glad of the whinge.