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HCPC: Why social workers in England must register with their new regulator – By Marc Seale (CEO & Registrar HCPC)


Marc Seale (HCPC Chief Executive & Registrar)

Social workers in England have a new regulator following the abolition of the General Social Care Council (GSCC). The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is now responsible for regulating social workers in England along with health and psychological professionals from many backgrounds and disciplines.

As a multi-professional regulator of over 300,000 individuals we take great care to ensure that each profession is treated the same, operating under the same rules and regulations, whilst recognising the unique aspects of each profession. This has allowed us to run robust and efficient processes for all.

In the run up to the transfer there was plenty of discussion about why it was taking place and whether the HCPC was the appropriate regulator. Concern was also expressed about the increase in the registration fee at a time of pay freezes and job cuts. However, now that the transfer has taken place, any social worker in England who wishes to continue practising must renew their registration with the HCPC.

All our professions renew their registration every two years at a cost of £76 per year. Every individual must complete a professional declaration which includes confirming that they meet our standards and are fit to practise. They must also pay their registration fee. This can be done either online or by completing a paper form. For social workers in England, the deadline for doing this is Friday 30 November 2012.

With under ten days until the deadline, over 74 per cent of social workers have now renewed their HCPC registration. This is just over 65,000 individuals. We are continuing to work with the social work community to make sure that any individual who wishes to continue practising renews their HCPC registration. We wrote to the managers of 34,000 social workers who have yet to renew their registration. We have also organised a series of events, had a presence at conferences, produced web and video content and, more recently, visited social workers in their workplace.

We know that some registered social workers may no longer be working or are in non-social work roles, and might therefore decide that they no longer need to be registered. But we want to make sure that all individuals and employers fully understand the implications if social workers do not renew.

The title ‘social worker’ is protected and being HCPC registered gives social workers in England the right to practise using this title. Not being registered has significant consequences for individual social workers. In the past some employers have downgraded qualified staff to assistant level pay or have required periods of annual leave for the period they were off the Register.

Failure to renew can also have a significant impact on service users, their families and work colleagues by causing disruption to the whole service for weeks just at a time when services are ever more stretched. People depend on their social worker to be there.

HCPC regulation has a clear purpose. It protects the public by setting professional standards for conduct and competence and protects service users from poor practise by holding professionals to account. Regulation also upholds the reputation of the profession by ensuring that only those who have the appropriate character and skills are registered. But for regulation to be credible, it must be robust and make sure its rules are applied. If you haven’t registered with us today, please make sure you do immediately. Your service and reputation depend upon it.

Marc Seale is the Chief Executive and Registrar @The_HCPC and will be our especial guest for the evening on Tuesday (27 November) to discuss and answer questions relating to registration, regulation, and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) of Social Workers in England.

In a especial evening with Marc Seale (Chief Executive and Registrar @The_HCPC) and Mark Potter (Stakeholder Communications Manager @The_HCPC) explore the changes to social work regulation and their implications for practitioners, employers, service providers and service users… Tuesday (27 November) at 8:00 PM GMT / 3:00 PM EST.

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