I was delighted that Parliament approved regulations to give Social Work England the opportunity to pioneer new approaches that will bring significant improvements to the way social workers are held to account, supported and recognised for the vital work they do for the most vulnerable people in our society.
The regulations provide a strong foundation for improved and effective regulation of social work in England, and this was an important milestone in our journey as we move towards launching the new dedicated regulator for the social work profession in 2019.
Clearly, I avoided speaking on these regulations during the debate itself due to my conflict of interest as Chair of Social Work England. However I did take the time to reflect and put on record my thanks to the several hundred people I have spoken to, from service users to higher education providers, and from the social work profession to employers, and stakeholder organisations e.g. BASW, SWU, who have been very engaged in discussions to help us reach this point in our development. Those discussions will certainly continue as we consult on rules and regulations to ensure social workers in England are highly skilled and effective in their practice.
I also wanted to take a moment to say a personal thanks to the Social Work England implementation team in the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Social Care, who continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes on this project to ensure that the new organisation is fit for purpose and protects some of society’s most vulnerable people. They are a unique and passionate multi-disciplinary group who are working with real commitment to develop the foundations for this arm’s length body.
As we move towards a new phase in Social Work England’s development a primary focus will be on our recruitment drive, bringing together a range of professionals with the right skills to help us deliver on our ambition for a regulator that is truly capable of responding to the changing demands of delivering social work practice effectively on the ground. There’s also a lot of work to do on consulting on the new rules and regulations that will guide the profession and of course collaboration with HCPC colleagues to ensure transition plans run smoothly.
I’d encourage all of you to follow @SocialWorkEng and @Social-Work-England and engage with us using #SocialWorkEngland or visit our interim website www.socialworkengland.org.uk to keep up to date with our journey so far.
Lord Patel of Bradford
Lord Patel is chair of Social Work England. A qualified social worker, he worked in inner city Bradford and then established a number of Third Sector agencies working with those misusing drugs and those with mental health problems; later moving to academia working with a number of universities.