Social Service Delivery
The United Kingdom is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Statutory bodies, such as local authorities, exist in each country and have the primary remit to support vulnerable children, families and adults within their boundaries. England alone consists of 433 Local Authorities.
Social Care services administered by local authorities are generally divided into children and adults departments. These departments are further divided into teams which work to together to deliver and implement targeted services to support adults in need, and safeguard children whom may have experienced or are at risk of abuse or neglect.
Throughout the UK, there is also a strong presence of charity and voluntary agencies which also depends on Social Workers and other professionals to engage populations in need. Usually these agencies have a specialist emphasis or focus on a particular issue. They are instrumental in providing services and support structures to these communities.
Securing Employment in the UK as a Social Worker
A first step would be to ensure your qualification meets the standards for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council – the regulatory body for the Social Work profession. There are forms you will need to complete and you will need to evidence that your education meets the standards for practice in the UK. The link will take you to the page with all the forms you will need to complete and the steps you need to take in the process.
If you are not a British Citizen or from the EU or EEA, you will most likely need to obtain a visa through sponsorship via an employer. For more information on requirements to work in the UK, please refer to the UKBA website.
Once you have confirmed your right to work in the UK, you can begin to search for employment. This can be done by approaching local authorities or charities directly, or you may wish to consider using the assistance of a Social Work employment agency. These companies will discuss your work experience and may be able to assist in securing either permanent or locum/temporary work in the UK.
Many agencies and contacts can be found on LinkedIn and representatives are happy to talk to you about the opportunities they have available. Most Local Authorities also have pages on LinkedIn where you can see what positions they have available. It is a great resource for connecting to professionals in the UK. There are also groups specifically for Social Care in the UK and within these special interest groups to increase your exposure to the professional who may be able to assist you in making the decision or transitioning once you arrive.
Key Legislation for Adult Social Care
No Secrets and the best practice guidance
Safeguarding Adults National framework of Standards for best practice
Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970
Mental Health Act 1983
Disabled Persons Act 1986
Carers Act 1995
Community Care Act 1996
Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
Public Health White Paper 2010
Protection of Vulnerable Adults Policy
Key Legislation for Children’s Social Care/Social Work
Every Child Matters Agenda
Children Act of 1989 and 2004
Child Protection Procedures
Tackling Delay- Adoption Reform Guidance
Social Work Reform Board Recommendations
Leaving Care Act 2000
London Child Protection Procedures
Working Together 2013
Children & Young Persons Act 2008
UN Convention on Children’s Rights 1989
Human Rights Act 1998
Asylum and Immigration Act 2004
Adoption and Children Act 2002
There is a different legislative structure in Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has the same legislative structure as England.
Sources of Support and networking
NSPCC – National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (charity helping children); many resources for Social Care/Work across the UK; the development of programs and legislative changes
Community Care – Online Social Care Publication, great resource for jobs across the UK as well as the practice of Social Work across the UK and changes
HCPC – Health and Care Professions Council (regulatory body for Social Work profession in England)
Serious Case Reviews – Lessons and recommendations regarding the review of cases where a child has died from abuse or neglect
Guardian Social Care Network – A way to keep up to date with what’s happening in Social Care in the UK
Ofsted – inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.
British Association of Social Work – “BASW is the largest professional association for social work in the UK, with offices in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We’re here to promote the best possible social work services for all people who may need them, while also securing the well being of social workers.”
The College of Social Work – identifies the activities need for career progression in Social Work called “The Professional Capabilities Framework” from the student level through senior management.
The Care Council for Wales – regulatory body for Social Work profession in Wales
Scottish Social Services Council – regulatory body for Social Work profession in Scotland
Northern Ireland Social Care Council – regulatory body for Social Work profession in Northern Ireland
Jobs Go Public – a resource listing vacancies in various local authorities
Guardian Jobs – search for social care jobs
The Local Government Association – “The LGA is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government.” They have a component called the Knowledge Hub where you can interact with government employees around key issues and interests.
Useful articles on Working in the UK
Social Work UK Blogs
There are several things you need to consider when considering a move to the UK. In response to a group post on LinkedIn in the NASW group, one member wrote this:
Based on my experience over the past 4 years of social work practice and learning about social work education in the UK, I think social work practice in the US is more ecologically grounded with a more therapeutic/clinical focus (I trained as a clinical social worker in the states). Less than a decade ago, you could qualify as a social worker in the UK without having to have a bachelor’s degree. Even now, you do not have to have a Master’s to qualify. The change in the qualification process drove many local authorities to recruit internationally because there weren’t enough people who could qualify as social workers under the new qualification criteria. That’s how I and many other american trained social workers landed up here. Now, immigration laws have changed making it harder for local authoririties to recruit internationally. I mention all of this to say that social work practice is in a different place in the UK which makes it hard to compare with US social work practice standards. The recent changes and innovations in social work practice in the UK are bringing it into more alignment to practices in the US but it has a different context, namely a public social welfare system that can often make UK social workers more the equivalent of caseworkers (if compared to their US equivalent). Alot of this is changing now, with the Eileen Munro review. I was lucky enough to be part of a local authority which has been one of the forerunners in changing social work in the UK but essentially, it is just the beginning of a culture shift in social work practice in the UK. This is something that many of my american social work colleagues practising here in the UK and I speak about. It’s an exciting time to be here and you will probably find that how you are being trained is very different from many of the social workers who will be your senior once you start to practice. All of this has made for an interesting and sometimes challenging transition for American trained social workers like myself and my colleagues working in the UK. I would imagine that a UK trained social worker who qualified years ago would probably need to retrain in the US to qualify in the US. Those doing UK post graduate social work training now would probably have an easier time making the transition but ironically may have more of a challenge transitioning into UK local authorities where old ways of working are still very prevalent. Would be happy to chat more about your experience training here in the UK (and your decision to train here as opposed to in the US).