Story updated 15 July 2022
Social workers temporarily registered to bolster the workforce in England and Wales during the pandemic will have to cease practising – or rejoin the register proper – by 30 September.
The Department of Health and Social Care announced the move today in its latest update on the implementation of the Coronavirus Act 2020, under which temporary registration of formerly registered social workers was introduced in England and Wales in March 2020.
In England, this was automatically applied to about 8,000 practitioners who had left the register over the previous two years.
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.
6,500 temporarily registered social workers
This has left about 6,500 practitioners temporarily registered in England, meaning they are able to practise without being liable for the £90 annual registration fee or requirements to carry out continuing professional development.
Despite the increasing pressures on the workforce as a result of Covid, surveys have found that only a small number of this group are in practice.
A spokesperson for Social Work England said it would be writing to all temporarily registered social workers, asking them to apply to restore their registration if they want to continue practising after 30 September – at a cost of £135.
“This can be done on our website where there is full information and guidance,” the spokesperson added.
The DHSC, in its update on the Coronavirus Act, said employers would otherwise need to make alternative appointments if they needed to fill roles currently undertaken by temporarily registered staff.
In Wales, a different approach was taken, with social workers who had left the register in the three years preceding the Coronavirus Act being able to opt in to temporary registration.
Since March, when the provisions governing temporary registration in England and Wales expired, no one has been able to join the Welsh temporary register. Those already on it have been allowed to continue in practice but there have been efforts to move them to the permanent register where possible.
The Welsh Government will also be closing temporary registration on 30 September.