‘Vital’ that social workers are supported to stay in Nottinghamshire and not move to agency work

Nottinghamshire County Council's County Hall
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

It is ‘vital’ that Nottinghamshire County Council supports social workers due to a the growing trend of staff moving into agency work, a service director said.

Many social workers across the country are moving into agency work for higher pay and often flexible working options combined with less responsibility.

Steve Edwards, Service Director, Youth, Families and Social Work said it would be “really helpful” to look at recruitment and retention of social workers.

He added that it is especially important to look at during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

He made the comments during the Children and Young People’s Select Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council on June 27, where councillors put forward suggestions of areas the committee should cover.

“I know nationally there is a shortage of over 6,000 now [children’s social workers]”, he said.

“There is an increasing trend for people to move towards being an agency social worker.

“If you’ve got two years’ qualifications as a social worker now and you decide to jump to be an agency, across the East Midlands the average payrise that you will get is £20,000 a year. That’s really tempting for our social workers at the minute.

“Petrol costs are going up, food prices are going up and they can give their notice and start for an agency the day after.

“So it is vital as a council we look at what we can do to support our social workers to stay in Nottinghamshire. Not for their sake, because everybody is struggling financially, but for the sake of the children and the council’s budget.

“We’ve got to look at how we retain our social workers.”

Councillor Paul Henshaw (Ind) added: “It’s not just a problem that we have in Nottinghamshire, it’s a national thing.

“It’s something that we really need to focus on and try to eliminate the problem.”

Earlier this month, some local authorities in London pledged to tackle the increasing pay rates for agency children’s social workers.

31 of the 33 boroughs in London signed up to agree a set pay rate for agency workers to stamp out bidding wars between boroughs.

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