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Periodic Review - Social Work England 2022/23

28 Mar 2024
  • Performance Reviews
  • 2023

Key facts & figures:

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Maintains a register of social workers in England
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101,779 professionals on its register (as at 31 December 2023)
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Annual registration fee: £90

Standards of good regulation met:

Total standards met:

17 out of 18

General standards:

5 out of 5

Guidance & Standards:

2 out of 2

Education & Training:

2 out of 2


4 out of 4

Fitness to Practise:

4 out of 5


Fitness to Practise: Interim Orders

Social Work England met Standard 17 for the first time this year. Whilst we saw an increase in the second half of the review period in the time taken from the receipt of a referral to an interim order decision being made, we were assured by the explanations Social Work England gave us about the specific circumstances in each case. It also provided further information about the challenges it faces and context of social work regulation, to explain this increase. Given these explanations, the assurance from our audit of Social Work England’s cases, and continuing good performance for the time taken to make interim order decisions once it is identified that an order might be necessary, we were satisfied that this Standard is met. We will continue to closely monitor Social Work England’s performance in this area.

Fitness to Practise: timeliness

Social Work England did not meet Standard 15 last year, for the first time, due to continuing challenges in processing fitness to practise cases in a timely manner. Whilst Social Work England is taking steps to address this, it continues to face challenges as a result of the cases inherited from the previous regulator and in hearing capacity. Measures for timeliness and the age of caseloads have not improved in this review period, and Standard 15 continues not to be met.

Registration of overseas trained applicants

Social Work England has seen a significant increase in the number of applications from overseas-trained applicants. Consequently, the time taken to deal with these applications has also increased. Social Work England has taken a range of appropriate measures to deal with the increase in applications, including liaising with overseas regulators and employers and agencies in England. We had no concerns about Social Work England’s performance in other areas of registration, such as UK applications and renewal. Standard 11 is met. However, we acknowledge the challenges that a lengthy application process can present for both applicants and other stakeholders. Accordingly, we will expect Social Work England to continue to take appropriate steps to improve performance in this area.

Assuring the quality of education and training

Social Work England is on track to meet its target for reapproving social worker training courses. Most courses are reapproved with conditions, which indicates that Social Work England continues to require providers to take action to ensure its standards are met. We received positive feedback from stakeholders about its approach to inspections. 


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