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Working in the Care sector in the UK

There are four countries within the UK - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they all have slightly different regulations about what workers in the care sector should know and be able to do.  There are also different regulators in each country who come and inspect the quality of services and different qualifications which staff can take.  Since January 2011 there have been a new set of qualifications in each country which will be referenced to the EQF. New qualifications are being added all the time.


Rules and regulations to work in the care sector.


Are there any legal requirements to work in social care?

Yes. There are some regulations about being registered as a social care worker, the requirements are different in each of the four countries in the UK. Registration is being gradually introduced for different types of worker and it is intended it might eventually cover all types of social care worker although this is by no means certain as expenditure savings are being made.   You will need to check with your employer about how this will affect you if they offer you a job. Working with children has different requirements than working with adults.

Social Care workers are all required to work to a ”˜Code of Practice”™.   If these codes are breached, workers can have their names removed from the social care register and they will not be allowed to work in social care again.


Further details are available from:

For work in England:

For work in Wales: 

For work in Northern Ireland: 

For work in Scotland: 


Social care workers who work with adults and children who are vulnerable, before taking up any position in a social care setting, whether paid or as a volunteer, will be subject to checks to confirm your suitability for employment. This will include a Criminal Records check.


Will I need a formal qualification?


You do not need qualifications to start work in the social care sector at entry level,  but there are expectations that qualifications will be achieved within a given period, you should check the registration requirements at the websites listed above. You can make a career out of working in social care, and to help this you can get more and better qualifications over time.


Will I need other training to start work in the social care sector?


No, not to start work at entry level. But once you have started work you will need to complete an ”˜induction programme”™.  The precise details of what this covers is different in each of the four countries, but in England it is a requirement that you complete the Induction Certificate covering agreed minimum standards when you start work.  This will help you to learn about your new workplace and the people you will be supporting. If you will be working with children there may be extra things you need to learn. In some jobs you may need extra training in some of the things you will be expected to do e.g. if you are to handle food, you will need training in food hygiene. Your employer will advise you about this. The situation in the other countries is changing and you must check the current rules when you want to come and work anywhere in the UK.


General Points of interest to note


The official languages are English, Welsh in Wales and the Scottish form of Gaelic in Scotland. In practice you will find that English is spoken almost everywhere in the UK, although there are some very strong local accents which can sometimes make it hard to understand what someone is saying!


The Currency is the British Pound   Â£

The UK population is estimated to be around 63.2 Million

We have four capitals London (for England and this is also the seat of the UK Government), Cardiff (for Wales),  Edinburgh (for Scotland) and Belfast (for Northern Ireland)

Health care.  Whilst the whole of the UK is covered by the National Health Service (NHS), it  has some variations from country to country – for example,  it is not delivered in the same way in Northern Ireland (NI), where health and social care services  are in integrated into  a single system.

Social Care is one of the areas of devolved power in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, which means that how social care is provided is the responsibility of the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government.  The UK education system is also part of the  powers devolved  in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.


The UK has a National Minimum Wage for Adults


In October 2014 for adults  (which means people aged 21 and over) it is  £6.50 per hour

For workers aged 18-20,  it is £5.13 per hour.

For workers aged 16 & 17 £3.79 an hour

NB These rates change every year, so check what the current rate is.

Many of the jobs for unskilled workers in the social care sector outside the big cities are often to be found at or just above the National Minimum Wage.  You should not be paid less than this hourly rate (although employes can make some deductions for board and accommodation they provide).


For up to date information on the details of the National Minimum Wage visit 


Websites of interest

Official government website for citizens: 

Home Office 

Health Professions Council (for England)

Care Council for Wales: 

Northern Ireland Social Care Council: 

Skills for Care: 

Scottish Social Services Council:

Skills for Care and Development (UK wide):  www.skillsforcareandevelopment 



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