The Department for Education has broken the law, after it failed to answer a Freedom Of Information request (FOI) about a controversial new body created to regulate social workers. The breach now means that there will be an investigation into the department and its handling of the request.

Before making the FOI request, Researching Reform wrote to the Department for Education to ask for a full breakdown of the management team at Social Work England, the new regulatory body that is set to replace The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

The Department did not confirm or deny that a management team was in place and refused to offer us any further information on developments at Social Work England, so on 26th February, 2018, we made a Freedom Of Information request and asked for details about the body’s management team and its partners and committee members.

A reply to the FOI request should have been sent by 27th March, however the Department failed to respond. 

Government bodies who do not reply within the set time period can be investigated for their failure to reply to requests, and under current legislation, that failure to respond is also breaking the law.

Social Work England has sparked concerns amongst child welfare professionals, with some taking the view that it is part of a wider government agenda to take over the social work sector completely. Currently, the only known member of SWE is Lord Patel, who was formally announced as the organisation’s chair last week. 

Researching Reform has requested an investigation into the Department for Education’s handling of the FOI request.