Social Work

Disability Awareness Activity - nasa hq photo / Flickr

The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 outlines the role of Social Work departments to ‘promote social welfare’ by providing services for people who have recognised needs related to their disability, mental health, age etc. and to provide services such as advice, guidance and assistance.

Under this Act the needs of both the cared-for individual and any care provided by a carer are assessed. These are then taken into consideration before providing any care services. A complaints procedure also exists.

The Children’s Hearing System
The Social Work (Scotland) Act also established the Children’s Hearings System (CHS) (Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011), which was unique to Scotland. This changed the way that children were dealt with; problems relating to children were now dealt with holistically rather than the child being put before the court system and punished as was previously the case.

Provision of services
The local authority does not have to provide actual services itself but it does need to ensure that individuals can access services. There have been many amendments to this act as the years have progressed. These amendments have taken into consideration the views of service users and carers, in line with anti-discriminatory practice and changes in other legislation.


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Key points

The main features of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968

The main features of the Act are:


Despite coming into force so long ago, the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 has largely been kept current through amendments and by working in conjunction with other pieces of legislation, such as the Community Care Scotland Act 2002, Regulation of Care Scotland Act 2001, Children’s Act (Scotland) 1995 and Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.



Prior to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, The National Assistance Act 1948 was in force. Some sections of this Act can still apply, for example, the power to remove a vulnerable person from a residence, if their health and safety or wellbeing are threatened. It also gives the right of local authorities to charge for some of the services they provide.




Further information

There has been a wealth of amendments and changes to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 as developments in care practice and rights of service users and their carers or relatives have been recognised. Joint approaches and collaboration between statutory, independent and voluntary sectors have resulted in additional legislation and responsibilities in the way care is provided.

  always check for the most recent amendment to this act.




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