Temporarily registered social workers urged to restore full registration to remain in practice

Practitioners will be given 14 days' notice before losing right to practise when government brings Coronavirus Act provisions to an end

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

Story updated 16 March 2022

Temporarily registered social workers are being urged to restore their full registration to stay in practice with the government expected to end provisions enabling them to work in the near future.

Social Work England and the Local Government Association called on those of the 6,353 temporarily registered professionals in England who wanted to stay in social work to apply to restore their registration in order to do so.

The parts of the Coronavirus Act enabling temporary registration of practitioners in England and Wales will expire at midnight on 24 March.

However, temporary registration will not end at this point, but when the UK and Welsh governments, respectively, declare the coronavirus emergency at an end.

14 days’ notice

This will give Social Work England and Social Care Wales 14 days’ notice to revoke the registration of all those temporarily permitted to practise – meaning practitioners will themselves be given two weeks’ notice at that point.

However, the UK government will give notice of the timing of the closure of the register to enable people to restore themselves to the full register if they wish to do so, suggesting there will be forewarning before the 14-day deadline is triggered in England.

A Social Work England spokesperson said: “We are liaising closely with the government to ensure that we are ready for temporary registration ending. Social workers will be given 14 days’ notice.

“It’s really important that everyone with temporary registration applies to restore if they wish to carry on practising. This can be done on our website. We wrote to everybody with temporary registration last [month] to remind them how to do this.”

David Fothergill, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “As we recover from the pandemic, longer-term restoration to a full time, permanent register is important for social workers to maintain their high quality work with families and ensure continuity, to safeguard the safety and wellbeing of children and families.

“We would encourage anyone considering a career in social work, or who has previously worked in this role, to put themselves forward and help make a real difference in improving people’s lives.”

Restoring registration

To retore their registration, practitioners in England must provide, among other things, information on their employment since leaving the register and any previously undeclared health conditions that may affect their practice. They must also provide evidence of how they have updated their skills and knowledge if they left the register more than two years previously.

Restoration costs £135, after which practitioners must also provide the relevant share of the £9o annual registration fee for the remainder of the current registration year.

It is likely that only a small minority of the 6,353 temporarily registered social workers in England are in practice. A survey published in May last year, as part of a government’s review of the Coronavirus Act 2020, found only around 100 of 13,500 practitioners who were then temporarily registered were practising.

Also, a campaign, led by the LGA, to match temporarily registered social workers with employers needing extra capacity closed in September last year.

Omicron impact

However, it’s possible that numbers were boosted at the turn of the year when councils wrestled with the impact of the Omicron wave on workforce capacity. At the time, children’s minister Will Quince urged temporarily registered practitioners to return to practice to shore up services.

When temporary registration in England was introduced in March 2020, all those who had left the register since March 2018 were automatically opted in. They were then supplemented by those who voluntarily left the register up to December 2020, or were removed in November of that year following the annual renewal process.

In November 2021, Social Work England began removing the temporary registration of those who had left the full register more than two years previously, as a public protection measure, given that the group are not subject to any pre-registration checks.

They are also not charged the £90 annual registration fee. However, Social Work England can remove temporarily registered practitioners if concerns are raised without following standard fitness to practise procedures.

In Wales, a different approach was taken with social workers who had left the register in the three preceding years being able to opt in to temporary registration. As of December 2021, 79 were temporarily registered.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The temporary register will close on 24 March 2022 to new applicants when the Coronavirus Act 2020 expires.

“However, existing registrants will still be able to remain on the register and to gain employment until the register is closed completely. Social Care Wales will be engaging with these registrants to offer them the option of moving to the permanent register over the coming weeks.”

Rising vacancies and turnover

The forthcoming removal of temporary registration comes with vacancies and turnover rising in both children’s and adults’ services in England.

In that context, and amid “consistently low” morale, Social Workers Union national organiser Carol Reid called for temporary registration to be extended.

She said: “It would make sense to consider extending this as part of a more flexible approach to recruitment to ensure a diverse and experienced workforce is able to return and remain in practice.”

However, the UK government’s view is that temporary registration was a response to the coronavirus emergency rather than a longer-term means of boosting the workforce.


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6 Responses to Temporarily registered social workers urged to restore full registration to remain in practice

  1. Paul March 9, 2022 at 9:00 am #

    No thanks.

  2. Les Mis March 9, 2022 at 4:30 pm #

    I made a comment last week in CC article:

    ‘Drop in adult social workers employed by councils as vacancies and turnover mount’

    which I urge you to read:


    …and yet David Fothergill chair of LGA wellbeing board is quoted here saying “We would encourage anyone considering a career in social work, or who has previously worked in this role, to put themselves forward and help make a real difference in improving people’s lives.”

    He must be out of touch with the reality as my experience is that unless you’re available to work Full Time you might as well leave the profession.

  3. Holly March 14, 2022 at 9:27 am #

    Is SWE feeling the financial pinch from reduced membership fees? Are social work employers now able to recruit having given us a 1.75% “pay rise”? I have tried to do my bit and return but been ignored by 4 LA’S. Only been voluntarily retired for three years so not exactly that decrepit and out of touch. The bureaucracy required and the chaos that exists doesn’t really incentivise one to “remain in practice” I’m afraid.

    • Les Mis March 14, 2022 at 10:09 am #

      ..I feel your pain Holly (see above)

      I’m still registered and have made contact with all the LA’s in my region in the North West and the NHS, but most don’t even respond, and those few that do always say the same

      ….Full Time SW roles only!

      I cannot understand why the Directors and Managers fail to see there is qualified/experienced resource who are available to work Part Time.

      And if they fail to acknowledge and address this issue the staffing crisis and increasing SW workloads will get much worse.

  4. Arthur March 14, 2022 at 2:13 pm #

    Perhaps social work managers believe that we are not stretched, that workloads aren’t debilitating and in turn Directors want vacancies because it saves them money. Perhaps all the hand wringing about understanding our predicament is just a pretence.

  5. Hetty March 16, 2022 at 11:44 am #

    Until Directors are made to carry corporate responsibility for things that go wrong they are happy for teams to be understaffed and services to be underfunded. Whatever the public face the culture is get on with it or get out.