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10.01.17

BASW: Nine out of ten social workers want an independent regulator

Almost 90% of social workers in England believe that regulation of their work should stay independent of government, according to a new poll of the profession.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) surveyed 1,100 of its members and found that 74% supported the creation of a new bespoke regulator for the profession, while only 24% wished to remain with the current regulator, the Health and Care Professions Council. 

The survey looked to gauge opinions towards proposals made in the upcoming Children and Social Work Bill, including a new regulatory body called ‘Social Work England’ and controversial ‘power to innovate’ clauses which will allow local authorities to opt out of certain statutory duties to children in the name of ‘innovation’.

BASW chief executive Dr Ruth Allen said: “The survey shows very starkly that the majority of social workers see key proposals in the bill as unwelcome impositions. They want professional respect. A regulator independent of undue government interference is essential.”

Over three quarters of BASW members (76%) disagreed with the DfE’s proposals behind the ‘power to innovate’ clauses, which will be decided by the department. Only 16% agreed with the proposals.

Concerns raised by social workers who completed the survey included the long-term affordability of the sector, governance, and the lack of prior consultation of social workers in the drafting of the Children and Social Work Bill.

When asked what they thought is needed to improve children’s services, respondents most often cited the ability to work with families, time, and additional resources, with BASW saying that this demonstrated how the quality of social work is being affected by government austerity measures.

“The profession cannot and will not accept a lip service approach to engagement that keeps the majority of the profession marginalised and silenced. This cannot be productive,” Dr Allen said.

“Imposing reform on the profession without proactive discussion and due legislative process cannot lead to successful, progressive and sustainable change. BASW will continue to push for positive, inclusive developments and we will stay ahead in this political environment so our members are not disenfranchised.”

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