Social workers could pay twice to register next year

British Association of Social Workers launches ‘no’ campaign after social workers are told they could pay twice for registration next year and significantly higher fees afterwards

Social workers in England may have to pay twice to keep their place on the social work register when the responsibility moves from the General Social Care Council (GSCC) to the Health Professions Council (HPC) in July 2012 – with the HPC also planning to charge more than twice as much as the GSCC.

An anomaly in the two systems means that social workers who are currently on the GSCC register will renew their registration on the annual date of when they first joined, whereas the HPC’s system has everybody renewing their membership on the same set date every year.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said that this will mean an overlap in dates for some social workers who have to renew their registration before the transfer, leaving them being charged twice for the same service. According to the HPC, this is because it is an independent regulator and does not receive government subsidy, unlike the GSCC, registration fees are more than double the current amount paid by social workers in England – £76 instead of the current £30.

BASW has written a letter to Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, urging him to take action, and has also launched an e-petition for social workers. It wants the government to synchronise the different renewal systems so that fees are only taken once.

Ruth Cartwright, BASW England manager, said: “Social workers are already seeing registration fees doubling because of the move to the HPC, and now they face paying twice to undergo the same administrative process. In addition social workers will have to pay also a one off non-refundable scrutiny fee of £53 to be paid at the time of first registration.”

She explained that social workers across the country have already had years of pay cuts and pay freezes, leaving many social workers struggling financially.

“The rising demand for social work services and reductions in posts has led to serious issues of low morale, excessive levels of unpaid overtime and work fatigue. Social workers do not get a choice to refuse to pay this fee, it is compulsory. We want the government to sort this out and not penalise hard working and under paid social workers,” Cartwright added.

The plans were first revealed at last week’s Community Care Children & Families Live event.