Government reviewing plans for social work statutory registration fees

Monday 9th May 2011

The Government is reviewing its plans to charge social workers and social care workers €380 a year, or  €175 a year for 2010 and 2011 graduates, after IMPACT raised the issue with health minister James Reilly.

In a meeting last month, the Department of Health told IMPACT that a decision would be announced at least two weeks before registration opens on 31st May.  While welcoming the decision to review the level of fees, the union has warned it will campaign and organise against fees if they were out of line with teacher or nurses, who currently pay €90 and €80 a year respectively. Social workers in Britain pay just £30.

IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan has told the health minister that any fees should be borne by employers for the present, particularly as social workers and other public servants had experienced large cuts in their incomes. “Despite our wish to see improvements in professional standards and the procedures designed to protect service users, IMPACT will not support fees at the level currently planned,” he said.

Social work and social care are the first of 12 additional health professions in line for statutory registration. The others include chiropodists/podiatrists, clinical biochemists, dietitians, occupational therapists, orthoptists, psychologists, physiotherapists, and speech and language therapists

IMPACT campaigned with others to achieve statutory regulation with ‘fitness to practice’ provisions, seen as vital for patient safeguards and the development of the professions. In discussions in 2000, IMPACT made it clear that the cost of registration should not be borne by the professionals themselves. There was no further discussion of fees after the enactment of the legislation in 2005.

The health department argues that fitness to practice procedures will involve considerable costs and that the Health and Social Care Professional Council (CORU) set up to regulate the profession, will have to be self-funding. It says a “different regulatory architecture and fresh legislation” would be required if the planned fees were reduced.  It has also said any fees charged would be tax deductable.