£3 mil­lion A year con­tract for agency so­cial work­ers

Coun­cil cof­fers hit by strug­gle to re­cruit per­ma­nent staff

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

A four-year £12 mil­lion con­tract for agency so­cial care work­ers is set to be agreed by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil. Long-term strug­gles to re­cruit per­ma­nent staff cost the coun­cil over £1.8 mil­lion last year due to a de­pen­dence on tem­po­rary staff.

In 2015/16, the coun­cil spent over £3.4 mil­lion on agency work­ers for chil­dren’s and adult so­cial care. This would have been £1.6 mil­lion if per­ma­nent staff had been used in­stead.

The num­ber of per­ma­nent chil­dren’s so­cial care work­ers has risen from 50 to 61 in the past year, with the num­ber of agency staff down from 26 to 15.

In adult so­cial care, there are 27 per­ma­nent work­ers and eight agency staff work­ing at any one time.

Typ­i­cally an agency so­cial worker costs ap­prox­i­mately £60,500 a year com­pared to £37,000-£45,000 for a full­time worker.

Last year, the coun­cil’s Con­ser­va­tive- run cab­i­net agreed to pi­lot the re­cruit­ment of 12 spe­cial­ist team sup­port work­ers. They would work with chil­dren with lower pri­or­ity needs and sup­port the work of so­cial work­ers with more com­plex cases.

Wendi Ogle-Wel­bourn, cor­po­rate di­rec­tor: peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties, said: “The re­al­ity is that there is a short­age of ex­pe­ri­enced so­cial work­ers na­tion­ally - Peter­bor­ough is no dif­fer­ent.

“We can­not leave so­cial worker posts un­filled and so in­evitably we have to use agency staff to meet the needs of our com­mu­ni­ties. This is ex­pen­sive and can lead to a high level of agency staff turnover.

“We have found in the past year that by im­prov­ing our re­ward struc­ture and pro­fes­sional development sup­port, it is help­ing us to bet­ter com­pete with other lo­cal author­i­ties. As a re­sult we now em­ploy more per­ma­nent so­cial work­ers and fewer agency staff than a year ago. This is a trend that we hope to see con­tinue.

“Long term we are aim­ing to re­duce our re­liance on qual­i­fied so­cial work­ers by, for ex­am­ple, em­ploy­ing spe­cial­ist sup­port staff to work with chil­dren with lower pri­or­ity needs. We will al­ways con­tinue to use ex­pe­ri­enced so­cial work­ers in com­plex sit­u­a­tions and for chil­dren on pro­tec­tion plans.”

The new con­tract will run from Au­gust 30,2016 un­til Au­gust 30,2019 with an op­tion to ex­tend it for an­other year.

It will cost ap­prox­i­mately £3 mil­lion per year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.