A BRADFORD Peer has been named the new chair of a new social work regulator by the Government.

Lord Kamlesh Patel will take up the role as chair of Social Work England, the new dedicated social work regulator.

The new regulator is aimed at working closely with the social work profession to share best practice.

Lord Patel, who was formerly social worker in Bradford and was appointed to the House of Lords as a Labour member in 2006, will set the professional standards for adult and child social workers across the country.

Lord Patel spent three years as a social worker with Bradford Council, before going on to work with drug addicts at the Bridge Project and setting up his own project to work with vulnerable children.

He said: “As a former social worker, I believe that supporting and sustaining good social workers requires a strong, confident and effective regulator.

“I want Social Work England to not only lead the way in driving up standards, but also to work collaboratively with the profession to ensure that all standards are evidence-based, rooted in real experience and values, and are fit for the 21st Century.

“I am extremely happy in the sense this is an unusual role, it is the first time the social work profession has had a single regulator.

“Social workers operate in the most difficult circumstances working with the most vulnerable people in society and do a fantastic job, but if something goes wrong it is all over the press.

“We aren’t here to be on anyone’s side, we are here to protect the public by setting standards, looking for the people and the best skills to share best working practices.”

Lord Patel said the job has come up at the right moment for him, and it almost feels like the role was made for him.

“They were looking for a number of skills, such as chairing a large complex organisation, and I have chaired about 30. They wanted someone who understands regulation; I have sat on four regulatory bodies, and obviously someone with experience in social work and education.

“My early career was spent as a social worker in Bradford and I have also been a lecturer in the field.

“The regulator is all about setting standards in the profession, and if we do our job right we will also protect the public and society’s most vulnerable people.”

Lord Patel now faces the task of appointing a board of directors, chief executives and around 120 members of staff, so the body can begin operations next year.

The appointment was announced by Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds, alongside a number of other announcements, including the appointment of former children’s minister Edward Timpson as the chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

That panel is responsible for overseeing reviews of serious child safeguarding cases which the panel deem to include complex or nationwide issues.