Three-minute guide to social work in Wales

All the essential information you need to know if you are considering a move to Wales

3-minute guide to social work in Wales

Credit: Patrick Frilet/Rex Features
Tristan Donovan
Wednesday 18 September

How many people use social services in Wales?

The country’s social services support 150,000 people of all ages every year, at a cost of around £1.4 billion. The system employs just shy of 70,000 people.

Who provides social services in Wales?

Local authorities hold the statutory responsibility for planning and commissioning social work in Wales and also have a duty to safeguard individuals (although this duty applies to other agencies too). Welsh councils structure their social services departments in different ways – some have combined adult and children’s social services, others split adult and children’s social care into separate departments. National policy is set by the Welsh Government through its Department for Health and Social Services. The Welsh Assembly had the power to pass laws concerning the delivery of social services in the country.

Who regulates social workers in Wales?

The Care Council for Wales regulates the profession in Wales, maintaining the country’s national register of social care workers. Unlike the register maintained by England’s Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the Welsh register covers more than just qualified social workers.

In addition to social workers who practice or intend to practice in Wales, the following people must also register: adult care home managers; residential child care managers and workers; students on approved social work degree courses in Wales; and – by 31 December this year – domiciliary care service managers. Adult care home and domiciliary care workers can also register.

Social workers who work in England as well as Wales on more than a “temporary” basis must also register with the HCPC. What is classed as temporary depends on the nature of the work, but often relates to how regular the work is; for example, a social worker registered in Wales who takes a six-week contract in England, but intends to return to work in Wales at the end of that contract, does not need to register with the HCPC.

Who inspects social services in Wales?

Social services and social care providers are inspected by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), which also inspects early years services.

How different is social work in Wales compared to England?

Beyond the differences in regulation and inspection, Wales has tended to stick with integrated social services rather than splitting children’s and adult services. However, the Social Services & Well-Being (Wales) Bill, which is currently going through the Welsh Assembly, is set to see Wales and England move further apart in terms of approach to service delivery. The bill, says the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Cymru’s manager Robin Moulster, is the “first major primary piece of legislation that affects social work in Wales” and will introduce numerous changes.

What changes will the bill make?

Proposed changes include moving adoption services in Wales towards regional consortia of councils, allowing courts to give social workers and police the right to enter premises where abuse of vulnerable adults is suspected and introducing national eligibility criteria for local authorities to follow. There are also measures to encourage more co-operation between health and social care and measures, such as portable assessments, designed to ensure consistency of services people receive when they move within Wales.

Any other changes on the way?

Beyond the bill, the Welsh Government is also preparing plans to reform the inspection and regulation of social work. The Welsh Government has also mooted the idea of creating a national college of social care. Integrated family support services will be introduced throughout Wales by 2014. These services have been trialled in some areas since 2010 and bring together adult and children’s services to provide targeted support to families where parental substance misuse is harming children’s welfare.

Would you like to work in Wales? Find out more by reading our social work careers guide.

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