Agenda item

(a)  Report of the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (CS/20/18) on Social Worker Recruitment and Retention and Business Case (Appendix 1), attached. The Cabinet are asked to consider the proposals and recommendation as outlined in the Report.

 

(b)  Report of the Scrutiny Spotlight Review, attached.

 

Recommendation in response to the Spotlight Review

 

(a) that the Children’s Scrutiny Committee be thanked for its Spotlight Task Group review and associated report;

 

(b) that the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Chief Officer for Children’s Services be asked to consider the themes and suggested actions as outlined in the Report (pay and conditions, development opportunities and career pathways, caseloads, supervision and support for workers recruited from overseas) and progress / co-ordinate as appropriate, engaging other partners and community organisation’s as necessary, noting that some actions have a significant financial impact and will require further consideration; and

 

(c) that a progress review meeting on the themes and recommendations be scheduled for March 2021.

Minutes:

(Councillors Brazil, Connett, Dewhirst and Hannaford attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).

 

The Cabinet considered the Report of the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (CS/20/18) on Social Worker Recruitment and Retention and associated Business Case (Appendix 1), circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.

 

The Report and business case appendix set out the national and local context regarding social worker recruitment and the challenges faced in Devon and then proposed a social work career pathway and remuneration, comparable to the offer in a neighbouring authority.

 

The Cabinet noted that nationally there was a shortage of qualified social workers. Whilst this shortage was reflected across the UK, there were additional challenges in rural and sparsely populated areas. The national turnover between 2015 and 2019 averaged 15.76% per year with Devon at 17.7% (although the figure would be higher in 2020).

 

A survey on retention in Spring 2020 highlighted that comparable annual leave, a recognised career pathway, recruitment and retention payments, achievement recognition, flexible working arrangements and car leases as important factors in retention. Exit interviews in 2020 all identified better pay as a key reason for leaving.

 

The proposals outlined in the Report were twofold and included improved salaries for experienced Social Workers, Team Managers and Independent Reviewing Officers, matching frontline Social Worker, Team Manager and Independent Reviewing Officer salaries with their counterparts in Torbay.

 

Second, accelerate the implementation of the career progression scheme with additional advanced practitioner roles within the Service This would create 24 Advanced Professional roles for Social Workers, converted from existing Experienced Social Worker posts.

 

The Cabinet noted the necessity to improve the offer to social workers, which would stabilise and value the workforce and promote better outcomes for children and young people as well as help meet the statutory obligations to children and families and promote the development of a skilled and effective workforce.

 

The Cabinet also considered the Report of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee Spotlight Review.

 

This had been established to consider the challenges facing Children’s Services in recruiting and retaining a stable social work workforce in the long term, the views and experiences of social workers, and the reasons that they chose to leave or stay with the Council and proposed strategies for delivering a more stable workforce and it made recommendations for any identified changes.

 

The Spotlight Review had identified five themes to be considered further relating to pay and conditions, development opportunities and career pathways, caseloads, supervision and support for workers recruited from overseas.

 

The matter having been debated and the options, alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability, risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Chief Officer’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:

 

it was MOVED by Councillor McInnes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and

 

RESOLVED

 

(a) that the additional investment to ensure recruitment and retention of social workers to improve value for money and outcomes for children be approved;

 

(b) that investment of up to £200,000 in the current financial year, and a further £519,000 in 2021/2022 from the Business Rates Pilot reserve for the invest to save strategy also be approved; and

 

(c) that the Children’s Scrutiny Committee and its Members be thanked for their diligence in their Spotlight Review Report and the Recommendations of the Spotlight Review be considered as part (b) of this agenda item.

 

In considering the Spotlight Review, it was further MOVED by Councillor McInnes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart and RESOLVED

 

(d) that the Children’s Scrutiny Committee be thanked for its Spotlight Task Group review and associated report;

 

(e) that the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Chief Officer for Children’s Services be asked to consider the themes and suggested actions as outlined in the Report (pay and conditions, development opportunities and career pathways, caseloads, supervision and support for workers recruited from overseas) and progress / co-ordinate as appropriate, engaging other partners and community organisation’s as necessary, noting that some actions have a significant financial impact and will require further consideration; and

 

(f) that a progress review meeting on the themes and recommendations be scheduled for March 2021.

Supporting documents: