How to contract an Independent

Understanding who are listed within the Directory

Everyone listed within the Directory are:

  • Members of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW)
  • As members, they are required to work within the terms of The Code of Ethics and The Code of Ethics: Addendum, additional guidance for independent social workers.
  • BASW Independents are covered by £5 million Professional Indemnity insurance with some also protected by £5 million Public Liability Insurance.
  • As Independents often have extensive career experience, you may note a significant variation in the types of work being offered, supported by relevant skill sets and academic qualifications.
  • Most Independents operate through their own business, whether as sole traders, limited liability partnerships, limited companies or an alternative business structure.
  • Some of these businesses provide direct social work services, some provide consultancy or training services but whatever the nature of the business, all of those listed in this Directory are responsible for the legal and ethical accountability of their practice.

Choosing an independent social worker or consultant

Seeking the services of an independent practitioner may be a very new experience for you, and you may well be doing it at a time of great personal stress. Here are some issues that you might like to consider when making that decision:

  • Clarity:

    Are you clear about what you want them to do or is that part of the professional task, to help you clarify what you need and how to go about getting it?

    The clearer you can be about what it is you need, the more likely it is that you will find the right person for the job.

  • Knowledge & Skills:

    What knowledge and skills do you think they will need for the task you have in mind?

  • Timeframe:

    When do you need the work done?
    Are there clear timescales for this such as a Court date?
    Is this something that can be negotiated?

    Bear in mind that many of the people listed in this Directory will be very busy and whilst they will do their best to accommodate you, they will also want to make sure that they do justice to your situation and that of their existing customers too. Therefore it will be important to check that the practitioner can give sufficient time to the task at the time when it is needed. It is also worth considering whether the length of time you think is needed for the work is realistic. The worker may be able to give you comparisons with other similar work they have done and what was actually involved – sometimes there is more to it than meets the eye.

An independent professional is exactly that – independent. Their remit is to give an impartial professional opinion based on the evidence and in line with their professional duties and relevant legislation and policy. Sometimes this opinion may not be quite what you had hoped to hear and it is important to understand that if this does happen, you will still be expected to pay for that opinion and for the work done.

What questions should I ask?

Every situation will have varying specifics and very much depends upon what it is you want the Independent to accomplish. Here are a few standard suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Qualifications, knowledge & experience

    What qualifications and experience do you have that is relevant to my situation?
    Can you provide me with a CV?
    Can you provide references or recommendations?
    Do you keep your knowledge and skills up to date?
    Can you give me a recent example of how you have done this?

  • Registration (Only those describing themselves as social workers are required to register)

    Do you need to be registered with the regulator for the work you do?
    If so, are you registered?

  • Payment terms

    How much do you charge?
    Do you charge extra for travel?
    Are you VAT registered and if so, is that on top of the fee quoted?
    When do I have to pay your bill?
    Do you need a payment on account?

  • Location

    Are you located within reasonable travelling distance of where this work needs to be done?

  • Communication

    How will you communicate with me?
    What is the best method and time of communication for both of us?

  • Other questions

    Do you envisage any conflict of interest for you in this work?
    How will we proceed if we disagree about something?
    Are you a registered Data Controller and how will you ensure that you protect confidential information that I share with you?
    Do you have regular professional supervision?
    Do you have access to advice for issues that you may not be sure about?

You may feel that these are intrusive questions but any quality professional will be happy to discuss these things openly with you.

What is the cost?

There is no nationally agreed scale of charges for independent social work or consultancy. Every individual listed within the Directory will operate their own business and will have set and/or negotiate their respective fees largely based on their professional experience along with their applicable business overheads. Other considerations that will reflect rates are: 

  • Nature of the work
  • How much needs to be done and the timeframe in which it will need to be completed
  • What level of skill and experience the professional has.

In line with The Code of Ethics: Addendum, additional guidance for independent social workers.

BASW does require that its’ members price professional services in a way that both reflects professional and market value and is fair to customers. BASW also requires that members advise customers of all fee rates and charges before beginning to provide professional services and to charge only for hours and services contracted and provided.

Put the agreement in writing

It is important that you and the person you choose to do the work both have a clear and shared understanding of what you have agreed. One way to formalise this is to have a written agreement that makes this clear. This could be a formal contract (for larger projects), a written proposal and project plan or simply a letter or email. In some situations, such as a solicitor instructing an independent social worker in connection with preparing a report for the Court, there will be a formal letter of instruction. Whatever format is used, the basics that should be covered are:

  • What is the task?
  • When should it be done?
  • What are the costs and terms of business, including staged payments where relevant?
  • When/how will you review progress?
  • How will you communicate with each other and how often?

It is a matter for negotiation whether you do this or whether the professional does it. The important thing is to have something in writing that all parties are happy with.

How can I check if someone is a registered social worker

You may verify someone's registration and whether there are any admonishments against their name online with the relevant regulatory body. Only those describing themselves as social workers are required to register.

Terms and Conditions

By electing to use the BASW Independents Directory, you are agreeing to the following Terms & Conditions. Independents listed with the Directory are responsible for the legal and ethical accountability of their practice. BASW does not endorse any particular individual or business listed within the Directory and is not liable for the conduct and or services rendered from those individuals.

It is important that you make your own enquiries and satisfy yourself that the person or business you choose is the right one for the task you have in mind. BASW Independents are professionals who adhere to The BASW Code of Ethics and Code of Ethics Addendum, additional guidance for independent social workers. Clients are expected to conduct business in a way that would not deviate the practice of BASW Independents in such a way to compromise their adherence to The BASW Code of Ethics and Code of Ethics Addendum.

As professionals, BASW Independents have a remit to provide an impartial professional opinion based on the evidence and in line with their professional duties and relevant legislation and policy. Sometimes this opinion may not be quite what you had hoped to hear and it is important to understand that if this does happen, you will still be expected to pay for that opinion and for the work done.

This Directory is for genuine use only. By accepting these terms, you are agreeing to not use the details held within the database maliciously nor for direct marketing. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within the Directory, details are individually submitted and content subject to change therefore accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Complaints

Everyone listed within the BASW Independents Directory, as BASW members, must adhere to the BASW Code of Ethics and Code of Ethics Addendum, additional guidance for independent social workers.

Should you have concern about an individual and/or services rendered from the BASW Independents Directory not adhering to these codes, you may refer this to the BASW Governance.

Please note that not all Independents are registered within the Directory nor are all Independents members of BASW. Therefore, you may need to contact the relevant regulatory body should the individual of concern be a registered social worker.

Refer to BASW Governance

More information

Should you have any questions about procuring the services of a BASW Independent that have not been answered above, please check our FAQs section or email independents@basw.co.uk.