Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) – proposed register changes: consultation analysis

This analysis follows our consultation on proposed changes to the SSSC Register, where we asked questions around reducing the number of Register parts from 23 to 4, reducing qualification timescales from 6 months to 3, and, including more information on the public facing Register.

3. Overview of Proposed Changes

Background on the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is a Non-Departmental Public Body, set up under the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, with statutory public protection functions to regulate social service workers and to promote their education and training. They protect the public by registering over 160,000 social work, social care and early years workers (as of April 2023); setting standards for their practice, conduct, training and education and by supporting their professional development. Where people fall below these standards, the SSSC can investigate and implement sanctions (including removal) where necessary. The SSSC's core functions include:

  • publishing the national codes of practice for people working in social work, social care and early years services and their employers
  • registering people working in social work, social care and early years and making sure they adhere to the codes of practice
  • promoting and regulating the workforce's learning and development
  • being the national lead for workforce development and planning for the social work, social care and early years workforce in Scotland
  • producing workforce data and intelligence on the social service workforce in Scotland for employers and other stakeholders that support the development of the sector.

The SSSC published their consultation 'A Register for the Future' to seek views on changes to the parts of the register, the Public Facing Register, and timescales for applying. Following healthy engagement with the consultation, with respondents sharing their thoughts, feedback and ideas. There were over 6,500 responses from people on all parts of the Register, alongside key stakeholders, sector partners, and others with an interest in SSSC's work. Key figures are shown below:

  • 91% of responses were from registrants.
  • 777 identified as employers or service providers.
  • 243 identified as someone who acts for a person who uses social services.
  • 39 responses from people who use social services.

Most respondents agreed with the proposed changes to the SSSC Register and the analysis report from the consultation can be found at the following link:

The Scottish Government consultation sought views on proposed changes to the SSSC Register. This includes reducing the number of parts, amending timescales for registering, and what information is included on the public register. We asked 5 questions and the answers were to aid us in bringing SSSC in line with all other professional regulators, and making the Public Facing Register much clearer to the public. Further information on each proposed change is noted below.

Reducing the number of register parts

The SSSC Register was originally designed to allow for the gradual expansion of registration, which has ultimately led to the Register being made up of twenty-three different parts. At the moment, people moving to a different care service setting and/or obtaining a promotion are required to formally remove themselves from one part of the Register and apply to a new part. This makes the process of registering with the SSSC time-consuming and confusing for the workforce, employers and the SSSC.

In order to make registration as straight forward and easy to understand as possible, we proposed that the Register be split into four separate parts. The four parts would likely comprise social workers, social work students, social care workforce and children and young people workforce. This takes into account the changing and emerging roles, as well as changes in the way services are delivered.

Streamlining the Register to four parts would reduce the need for people to be registered on multiple parts and also make the process of getting promoted or changing service an easier and less laborious process.

A simplified Register with an increase in self-service and automation would not only benefit the workforce, it would also result in cost efficiencies within the SSSC as the new Register would cost less to administer, as well as reducing the costs to the sector in supporting staff to register.

Timescales for Applying

Currently the social services workforce have six months after starting employment to register with the SSSC. This means there can be a lengthy gap before the SSSC is assessing the Fitness to Practise of someone joining a care service.

The proposal intends to introduce a mandatory requirement for workers to apply for registration within three months of starting employment, and be registered within 6 months.

This would result in an increased level of protection for service users, due to the fact the intention is that workers will apply for registration sooner. This will enable SSSC to assess an applicant's Fitness to Practise earlier, again improving public protection.

Changes to the Public Facing Register

The consultation also sought views on the proposal to include more information on the searchable public Register. The information which would be made public would be the following:

  • The level of role – currently the Register part tells you the level at which an individual is registered to operate (manager, supervisor, support worker). If, following the outcome of this consultation, the decision is taken to reduce the Register parts from 23 to 4, this level of detail would no longer be available. Instead, the Register would detail, for example, that a worker is on the Social Care Workforce part of the Register with no indication of the level at which they are working. We propose to include this detail on the public facing Register. This will allow employers/interested parties to know the level at which a worker is operating.
  • Whether a registrant has the qualification for their role - the proposed change will make it optional for the SSSC to display qualifications on the public facing Register. This will initially show certain specialist qualifications with the intention that this is expanded in the future. This will promote the importance of qualifications, and particularly the importance of specialist qualifications.
  • Whether there is a Fitness to Practise warning and/or condition – this information is currently published on another page of the SSSC's website, but is not linked to the public facing Register. This will show any live sanction in place. This means the public facing Register will show, at a glance, all relevant information regarding an individual's registration and Fitness to Practise. Sanctions are currently shown on a different part of the website, but not linked to the public facing Register. This means the existence of a sanction could easily be missed. Having this information available on the public facing Register makes it easier for interested parties to see full details of the reasons for any sanctions being in place. This is the approach taken by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
  • Whether a registrant holds a specialist qualification such as a mental health officer award or a practice teaching award.

Introducing this information to the searchable public Register would improve professional recognition of specialisms, whilst also making it easier for the public to check the Register and find out the status of someone working with them, or someone they care for.

The Scottish Government believe that the Public Facing Register is where the public should be able to see any issues with an individual's Fitness to Practise. This is currently available on a separate part of the website, however these changes would essentially make this information easier to obtain.

These changes would bring the SSSC in line with all the other professional regulators such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and would make the Public Facing Register much clearer to the public.


This consultation ran for the standard 12 weeks. This was due to SSSC already consulting on the same issues, and for Scottish Ministers to ensure the appetite for the proposed changes was still there. The necessary analysis work also had to be undertaken along with the development of new legislation. The draft legislation requires to be laid in the Scottish Parliament in sufficient time to allow proper scrutiny and to ensure that the changes can take effect from the 3rd of June.

Stakeholder Engagement

In concurrence with the consultation, Scottish Government officials regularly liaised with members of the Scottish Social Services Council to discuss the proposals laid out in the consultation exercise.



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