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The Authority publishes its first performance review of Social Work England

The Professional Standards Authority has published its first annual performance review of Social Work England. This review covers Social Work England’s first year as the regulator of social workers in England, from December 2019 to November 2020. At the end of 2020, there were over 95,000 social workers on Social Work England’s register.

We review each of the statutory health and social care regulators each year to assess whether they are meeting our Standards of Good Regulation. Because Social Work England was a new organisation with some new powers, we adapted our oversight to respond to new risks that might arise. For this review period, Social Work England met 15 of the 18 Standards.

Social Work England did not meet Standard 3 because it had made limited progress in its first year on gathering data about the diversity of its registrants and on developing and implementing its strategy for equality, diversity and inclusion. It did not meet Standard 11 because it was taking too long to deal with applications for registration. It met four of our five Standards for fitness to practise: it did not meet Standard 17 because we had concerns about risk assessments in fitness to practise. Social Work England met Standard 18, about supporting people to participate in the fitness to practise process, and we recommended that it consider some further action for improvements in this area.

Social Work England has engaged constructively with feedback and has shown commitment to improvement. It has already made some progress in addressing the issues we identified: this includes starting to implement its strategy for equality, diversity and inclusion, and improving its risk assessment process at the first stage of fitness to practise cases. We think it has made an encouraging start, particularly in the difficult circumstances of the pandemic. We will continue to monitor its work and will report on its progress next year, including in relation to our recommendations.

You can find more information about how we reached our decision in our Performance Review - Social Work England 2019/20 or read a summary in our snapshot.



Note to Editors

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees 10 statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
  2. We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
  3. The Standards of Good Regulation are designed to ensure that the regulators are protecting the public but also promoting confidence in health and care professionals and themselves. The Standards cover the regulators’ four core functions: setting and promoting guidance and standards for the profession; setting standards for and quality assuring the provision of education and training; maintaining a register of professionals; and taking action where a professional’s fitness to practise may be impaired.
  4. We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
  5. We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
  6. We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament
  7. Our values are – integrity, transparency, respect, fairness and teamwork – and we strive to ensure that they are at the core of our work.
  8. Social Work England regulates social workers in England. It sets and maintains standards of conduct and practice for social workers in England; sets standards for the education and training of practitioners and assures the quality of education and training provided; maintains a register of practitioners (‘registrants’) who meet its standards; requires registrants to undertake continuing professional development to ensure they maintain their ability to practise safely and effectively; and acts to restrict or remove from practice individual registrants who are considered not fit to practise. As at 31 December 2020, there were 95,251 registrants on its register. Its registration fee is £90.
  9. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at