Yesterday, the Government launched an open consultation seeking views on the policy underpinning the draft regulations of new social work regulatory body, Social Work England.
On 27 April 2017, the Children and Social Work Act 2017 was granted Royal Assent. This saw the establishment of a new professional regulator for social workers in England. Social Work England will be responsible for approving initial education and training courses of social workers, setting professional standards including ethics, maintaining a register of social workers, and operating a fitness to practise system. The Department for Education and the Department of Health will be responsible for holding the regulator to account, alongside the Professional Standards Authority.
Whilst the Act outlined the broad legal framework for Social Work England, many of the specifics are still to be set. The consultation provides an opportunity for those with an interest in social work to express their views and influence the core elements of Social Work England’s regulatory framework. The consultation closes on 21 March 2018.
In 2016, former Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP, announced plans , as part of wider reforms, to establish a new body replacing the work of Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in this area. The HCPC is an independent and financially autonomous body currently regulating social workers in England, alongside 15 other professions.
Social Care England, being a specialist body, is intended to drive up standards and put social workers on par with high-status professions such as surgeons or lawyers. Nicky Morgan described the plans as ‘big and bold’ and noted that the ‘reforms are about getting it right for social workers, so that social workers can get it right for our most vulnerable children and families’.
 Social Work England: secondary legislative framework, Department for Education, 8 February 2018, link
 Children and Social Work Act 2017, National Archives, 27 April 2017, link
 Nicky Morgan MP, Department for Education, 14 January 2016, link