Part IV: Social Care Workers |
80. Clause 50(4) provides for the Councils to
fulfil their function in accordance with directions and guidance
from the appropriate Minister and that these directions shall
be in writing.
81. Clause 51(1) defines a social care worker.
Clause 51(3) allows for regulations to include other persons in
this definition who falls within the descriptions given. A closed
definition of social care worker on the face of the Bill would
not be appropriate to the reality of social care. A means of extending
the definition of social care worker without requiring further
primary legislation is needed to keep pace with the changing face
of social care provision in the field, which is continuing to
82. This clause provides for the Councils each
to maintain a register of social care workers. The register will
be a register of parts for various sections of the workforce.
It is intended that initially there will be a part of the register
for professional social workers.
83. Clause 52(2)(b) provides for further parts
of the register to be made by order. The basis for opening parts
of the register to classes or groups of social care staff will
be that it can be demonstrated that any class or group of staff
is competent and safe to practise in a particular area of social
care. For example, in England the Department of Health is funding
the training of residential child care workers to National Vocational
Qualifications Level 3 with the view to preparing them with a
relevant qualification so they may become early registrants with
the GSCC. (See clause 54(2) below for further details on the link
between training and registration.)
84. Clause 52(3) provides for the appropriate
Minister to make an order to close a specified part of the register.
He will consult the Council before doing so. Social care is not
static. In order to provide the best protection for the public
the register must be able to reflect the changing pattern of service
delivery. This clause would allow the appropriate Minister the
flexibility to be able to close redundant parts of the register.
85. It is thought that order making powers are
the most appropriate for opening and closing parts of the register.
This will place the power with government rather than the Councils
but will set the power at the right level to make it responsive
while avoiding making it unwieldy.
86. This clause provides that applications for
registration must be made to the Council and gives the Council
an overall power to make rules governing how applications shall
87. Under clause 54(2)(a)(iii) a Council may
make rules about requirements as to training it may impose on
social workers applying for registration. Training and qualifications
are ways of judging the competence of social care staff.
88. Clause 54(2)(b) extends the rule making power
to other social care staff.
89. Clause 54(3) proposes rule making powers
for the Councils as to the standards of conduct and competence
they would wish applicants to demonstrate in order to qualify
90. Clause 55 puts a duty on the Councils to
make rules about the circumstances in which a person may be removed
from the register, suspended from it or restored to it. The rules
will also set out the administrative procedures that must be followed
and the rules of evidence that must be observed in cases of removal
or suspension from or restoration to the register. These rule
making powers complement the power to register individuals and
contributes both towards the safety of the public and fair treatment
of individual social care workers registered with the Councils.
91. Clause 56 provides for the Councils to make
rules about the keeping of the register, the documentary evidence
to be produced by applicants in support of their applications,
the annual fee for registration, length of the registration period
and the periodic lapsing of registration. It is intended that
the rules made under this power will be used to support the basic
principle that the Council will add to the protection of the public.
92. Clause 58 provides for the Councils to draw
up and promulgate codes to guide the conduct and practice of social
care staff. These will be an important part of the protection
of the public that the Council will offer. No such nationally
agreed codes exist at present.
93. The appropriate Ministers will be able to
refer to the codes in the National Minimum Standards that will
apply to services registered with the registration authorities
(see clause 21).
94. Clause 58(5) enables the appropriate Minister
to direct local authorities to take steps to ensure that social
care staff comply with the codes. Such directions will be in writing
and will allow the appropriate Minister to give the local authorities
specific and detailed instructions that would not be appropriate
for regulations or an order.
95. Clause 59 provides for the Council to make
rules about approving training courses for professional social
work. Regulating professional social work training will be one
of the functions of the Councils. It is essential that social
care training be appropriately regulated if standards in social
work are to be improved. This is part of the main intention behind
the Council. The GSCC and the CCW will have functions in respect
of training for all social care work. When CCETSW, which is a
UK body, ceases to exercise its functions in relation to England
and Wales, the regulation of professional social work training
will be passed to the GSCC in England and the CCW in Wales. (Scotland
and Northern Ireland will legislate separately to create new arrangements
for CCETSW's functions.)
96. Clause 59(3) gives examples of the matters
for which the rules for approving training courses may make provision.
The intention is that the Councils will ensure quality and consistency
in the provision of education. The Department sees allowing the
Councils power to make rules (subject to the agreement of the
appropriate Minister) as the most effective way for the Council
to undertake its regulatory function and respond to developments
in professional social work education and training.
97. Clause 59(5) provides that a Council may
approve a course under this section only if it considers that
it is such as to enable persons completing it to attain the requisite
standard of proficiency in relevant social work. Clause 59(6)
enables the Councils to make rules describing the requisite standards
of proficiency it requires of courses.
98. Clause 60 only applies to training requirements
in respect of the part of the register relating to relevant social
work. One of the conditions of registration in that part of the
register is that the applicant has completed training requirements
referred to in clause 54(2)(a). One way of meeting these conditions
is that the applicant satisfies the requirements in clause 60(1),
which relates to qualifications obtained and training undergone
in countries outside England. Clause 60(2) makes equivalent provision
for Wales. As each of the UK countries will have its own regulatory
body for relevant social care, these clauses apply to qualifications
gained in other parts of the UK as well as those gained in other
EU States and in other parts of the world.
99. There are order making powers in 60(1)(a)(i),
60(2)(a)(i), and 60(3) allowing the appropriate Minister to designate
courses as having Community equivalence for the purposes of registration
if prescribed conditions required by a directive issued by the
Council of the European Communities are fulfilled. Order making
powers seem the most appropriate to allow the appropriate minister
sufficient flexibility to respond to changes in Community equivalence.
100. Clause 61 provides for the Council to make
rules requiring persons registered with the Council to undertake
further training. It is common in other professions for continued
registration with a regulatory body to be linked to continuing
professional education and development. Continuing education is
no less needed in social care, where safe, legal practice depends
on an individual's updated knowledge of research advances and
developments in best practice. Clause 61 therefore makes provision
for the Council to be able to make rules requiring registered
persons to undertake additional training. The rules may also provide
for those who fail to comply with rules as to post-registration
training, including provision for such persons to cease to be
registered. 61(3) puts the Council under a duty to consult relevant
persons before making or later varying such rules.
101. Clause 62 provides for the Council to make
rules about visiting social work courses as part of its regulatory
function. As part of its powers to approve and monitor the effectiveness
of individual training courses the Council will need to be able
to visit and report on the places delivering this training. This
clause gives the Council powers to be able to appoint and pay
the visitors to undertake this work on its behalf and to visit
the place offering the training. Provision is made in respect
of visits to both higher education institutes, which deliver the
academic element of the training, and social services agencies
that provide the practice placements where students can develop
their practical skills.
102. Clause 63 provides for promotion of training
and for the payment of grants by the appropriate Minister. It
also allows them to delegate these functions to their respective
103. The Central Council for Education and Training
in Social Work (CCETSW) is the UK body with a statutory duty to
regulate professional social work training. Clause 66 provides
for the abolition of CCETSW in England and Wales once the Councils
have been established. (Scotland and Northern Ireland will legislate
separately to set up new arrangements for dealing with the functions
of CCETSW in those countries.) The Secretary of State alone can
bring into force the provision which repeals the legislation relating
to CCETSW (subsection (4)), and he will only do this when he is
satisfied that CCETSW no longer has any functions in any part
of the UK.
104. A winding-up scheme for CCETSW will be set
out in an Order in Council, as the most appropriate power, to
deal with the arrangements for disposing of the assets and liabilities
of CCETSW. These assets and liabilities may be distributed to
England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland as appropriate.