Social Work England has added two social workers to its board, meaning three of the eight members are registered practitioners.
The regulator faced criticism from social work commentators, on its establishment in 2019, for having just one registered board member, chief executive Colum Conway.
The new board members, Adi Cooper and Sue Ross, replace Baroness Tyler and Helen Phillips, who had both served on the regulator’s board since Social Work England was set up in 2019.
Colum Conway, chief executive of Social Work England, said the regulator was delighted to welcome the two new board members with social work experience, adding: “The board members of Social Work England are appointed through the public appointments process and have a breadth of skills and knowledge to ensure the organisation can fulfil its vital regulatory duties.”
The regulator has also been criticised, in comments under Community Care articles, for not having enough social workers on its staff.
Of the 209 full time equivalent (FTE) staff, 27 FTE are social workers, making up 13% of the workforce. Of the 176 partners – experts who provide assistance in areas such as CPD, education quality assurance and fitness to practise – 57 are social workers, 32% of that total.
Social Work England said that its work “includes a huge range of responsibilities, from managing registration processes and fitness to practise, to education quality assurance and setting standards for the sector”.
It added: “To run a large organisation like this effectively, it’s essential that it employs specialist staff with knowledge spanning areas like policy, data protection, IT, finance, legal, customer service, investigations, HR and more.”
New additions to board
In addition to the three registered board members, the chair of Social Work England, Lord Patel, is also a qualified social worker, although not currently registered.
Cooper spent over 20 years working as a social worker and manager in local authority services, culminating in nine years as director of adult social services in the London Borough of Sutton, from 2006-15.
She has since worked as a social care and health adviser for the Local Government Association and currently chairs two safeguarding adults boards and is a visiting professor at the University of Bedfordshire.
Ross is a consultant in health and social care covering both adults’ and children’s services, and previously worked in adults’ and children’s services director roles in England, Scotland and Wales, most recently at the former Bournemouth council.