My honourable friend Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, and I have today published the government response to the public consultation on the policy to establish the regulatory framework for Social Work England, the new, specialist regulator for social workers in England. Alongside this government consultation response, we have laid regulations that, subject to Parliamentary approval, will enable Social Work England to operate.
The consultation, which ran from 8 February to 21 March, sought views from everyone with an interest in social work and professional regulation on the policy underlying Social Work England’s secondary legislative framework. The aim of this regulatory framework is to enable Social Work England to protect the public by operating streamlined, proportionate and efficient systems and processes, which adapt to emerging opportunities, challenges and best practice. This will ensure the professional regulation of social workers in England reflects the changing reality of delivering social work practice safely and effectively – building public trust and confidence in the profession.
We received 198 responses to the consultation from a wide variety of interested stakeholders, including representatives from social worker networks, local authorities, unions, charities, education providers, service user groups, regulatory bodies and individual social workers. During the consultation period, officials also held 11 events, consulting with social workers, education providers and interested parliamentarians and met again with both the Regulatory Expert Groupand the Advisory Group.
Overall, respondents supported the majority of proposals. The consultation response summarises respondents’ views, areas of concern raised and the changes made to address those concerns. We have taken clear and practical steps to respond to what experts, professionals and the sector told us to further strengthen and refine the proposed secondary legislative framework for Social Work England.
A number of respondents also requested further clarity on the role of Government in relation to Social Work England; expressed strong support for collaboration between Social Work England and the sector; and, highlighted the importance of minimising disruption to the profession during the transfer of regulatory functions. Many recognised the potential benefits a specialist, single profession regulator will bring to social workers and for the social work profession. Respondents also provided wider comments on the way in which Social Work England will operate as the regulator on a day-to-day basis, and how it might consider effective and efficient ways to discharge its functions. While these responses fall outside of the scope of the consultation on the secondary legislative framework, we do expect Social Work England to work closely with the sector through its consultations on standards and regulatory rules, and as it establishes itself as the new regulator for social workers in England. We hope that respondents will welcome the opportunity to contribute further to such consultation.
Finally, we can announce today that Colum Conway has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Social Work England. Colum is currently Chief Executive of the regulatory body for the social work profession and social care workforce in Northern Ireland. Alongside his experience of running a regulator, he has a background in social work and has many years’ experience working in senior leadership roles. We are confident that he will bring a wealth of relevant experience to this role and we look forward to working with him, and Social Work England’s Chair Lord Patel of Bradford, to make Social Work England a success.
Copies of the government response are available on gov.uk. I will place copies of the consultation response in the House Libraries.
 The Regulatory Expert Group includes representatives from the General Medical Council, the Banking Standards Board, Professional Standards Authority and the Legal Services Board.
 Social Work England Advisory Group membership includes key organisations from across the social work sector, employer representatives, education providers and service users including the British Association of Social Workers, Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Association of Professors of Social Work.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords