Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Second Report

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 develop.


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 be made.


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 for registration.


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 Councils.


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.

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