Headlines: October 22nd, 2003

The government is planning to take steps to safeguard the title of social worker in an attempt to raise the status of the profession and to protect the public from people claiming to work in social services.

Consultation will begin early next month on proposals to make it an offence in England and Wales for anyone to use the title social worker unless they are qualified to do so, and are registered with the General Social Care Council in England or the Social Care Councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It is thought that as well as raising the status of social work, the legislation will help to safeguard the public from bogus social workers by ensuring that they have access only to professionals who are qualified and competent.

The Health Minister, Stephen Ladyman, said the ‘protection of title’ legislation would place social workers on a par with other professionals in the health and social care field. They would be recognised as having achieved a high level of training and being bound by national codes of practice.

Mr. Ladyman said role of social workers in helping some of the most vulnerable people in society could not be over estimated but they had not been afforded the professional recognition they deserved. Children’s Minister Margaret Hodge said better protection for those using social services was especially important in the field of children’s services. The consultation on the proposals will begin on November 3rd and run until late January. It sets out a timetable that envisages the new proposed legislation being in place by April 2005.