Union warns hundreds of jobs at risk if GSCC cut

Hundreds of jobs are at risk due to plans to abolish the General Social Care Council (GSCC) Unite the union warned on Thursday.

The union demanded immediate talks with ministers to review the decision, and said that it will be writing to GSCC chairwoman Rosie Varley and Care Services Minister Paul Burstow to ask for a meeting to discuss the details of the proposal and the impact it will have on staff and the sector.

Unite said that it had not been consulted by ministers or the GSCC board prior to the announcement earlier this week, which was part of the coalition government’s review of “arms-length” bodies within the Department of Health.

The union’s regional officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said the decision was a “devastating blow to staff after working so hard in putting social work regulation on the map for the first time, only to hear that the reward for their endeavour is dismissal.

“This puts hundreds of jobs at risk of redundancy, and many employees are now staring into an uncertain future, as the implications of this sudden announcement unravel.”

The GSCC will be abolished by next April and its responsibility for the regulation of social workers will be transferred to the Health Professions Council (HPC), which already regulates 15 health professions.

Mr Jarrett-Thorpe warned that the decision could “damage the well-established system” of professional regulation of social workers, adding: “Unite will be writing to Rosie Varley and Paul Burstow to ask for immediate talks.”

Unite pledged to campaign to protect the 200 staff currently working for GSCC and help anyone made redundant to find suitable jobs elsewhere.

The government has justified its decision, claiming that the current HPC fee of £76 a year for registrants was far less than social workers would be charged had plans to make the GSCC self-funding gone ahead.

But unions and campaigners have pointed out that the HPC registration charge is more than twice the current GSCC fee of £30 a year.

Helga Pile of public-sector union Unison said at the time of the announcement: “Many social workers will baulk at the prospect of the annual registration fee more than doubling at a time of pay freezes and rising living costs.”