Social Work England replaces HCPC as regulator for social workers


Social Work England, a new independent regulatory body set up by the government to oversee social workers, has become operational.

The body takes over from the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). Picture: Adobe Stock
The body takes over from the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). Picture: Adobe Stock

The new regulator for the profession, which officially took over on 2 December, replaces the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) which previously held a register of nearly 100,000 social workers in England.

The government outlined plans in 2016 to create a new independent social work regulator and established Social Work England last year to begin the process of handing over responsibility from the HCPC.

It announced in July that Social Work England would go live on 2 December after months of preparation for it to assume its new regulatory duties.

In addition to the administration of the social work register, it will be responsible for regulating degree courses provided by higher education institutes and continuous professional development.

It will also enforce regulations for members whose conduct does not meet current fitness to practise rules.

In September 2018 Colum Conway was appointed Social Work England’s chief executive having joined from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council which he led for five years.

Speaking in response to today’s official launch, Conway said: “It’s a landmark moment for the sector as our organisation takes over as regulator.

“We have been established under new legislation which allows us to be a modern, specialist regulator that builds and promotes confidence in the sector.”

As part of the groundwork to take over from HCPC, Social Work England ran a consultation earlier this year on the rules and standards for the profession.

It published its final standards in July that Conway said would “reflect the social work profession and be recognisable as a set of standards all 95,000 social work practitioners can work to, regardless of where they are working”.

Social workers will pay a registration fee of £90 a year to join Social Work England’s register, the same amount previously charged by the HCPC.

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