A record 100,495 social workers in England have renewed their registration with the regulator this year.
Social Work England said 97.3% of practitioners who needed to renew completed the process during the three-month window, which closed on 30 November.
This is the highest proportion recorded in the four renewal rounds since it took over the regulation of social workers in England in December 2019.
3,600 more social workers on register
As a result, England starts the new registration year with 3,609 more registered social workers than last year, when 96,886 renewed.
The regulator reported that the process ran more smoothly this year, citing the positive impact of more tailored communications with practitioners.
This year less than half of that number (410) failed to renew as a result of not completing their application form.
Fall in numbers seeking restoration
There has been an accompanying fall in the number seeking restoration to the register following the renewal period, with 319 having done so, compared with 842 last year.
Restoration costs a further £135, on top of the registration fee, and Social Work England can take up to 20 days to process applications, during which time the practitioner cannot work as a social worker.
Overall, there was a significant year-on-year drop in the number of people removed from the register for failing to renew, from 3,740 to 2,256, which was 2.2% of those eligible to renew.
In addition, 1,365 left the register voluntarily during the registration period, down from 1,744 last year.
Social Work England said that it had not yet renewed, or removed, a further 573 practitioners at the time the data was compiled. It said it would provide a further update in early February.
Improvements in communications
Its executive director of regulation, Philip Hallam, said: “I’d like to thank social workers who applied to renew their registration by the deadline, and I’m encouraged to see that the social work register continues to grow, with more social workers joining the profession.”
He added: “This year we’ve taken additional steps to ensure our communications to support social workers were tailored to individual circumstances and outlined the specific actions that needed to be taken.
“As the deadline approached, this meant that individual social workers knew exactly what actions were required for them to complete their registration renewal application.”
Hallam said that the regulator trialled sending text messages to some social workers setting out the steps they needed to take to complete the process, and that feedback had been positive about the changes it had made to communications.
The regulator received 222,148 CPD submissions – just over the two per registrant required – with 136,059 including a peer reflection, which social workers must supply for one of their submitted pieces.
The data also showed that, as last year, children’s services practitioners made up the majority of the register, with 54,023 registrants, 57.5% of the total who provided employment data.
Adults’ social workers accounted for 34.8% – 32,653 – with 7,249 (7.7%) working in other services; all of the proportions were similar to last year.