Agenda item

Social Work Recruitment & Retention Incentives

To agree for the extension of the market premia and retention payments for children’s social workers until 31 March 2020.


The Chief Officer: Human Resources and the Chief Officer: Children’s Social Care reported that the recruitment and retention of Children’s Social Worker pay incentives that the Council had implemented in 2015, in the form of market premia and retention payments, were due for review in April 2018.


To date the incentives had greatly impacted in stabilising the team, reducing agency workers and significantly reduced the agency and recruitment costs whist retaining a stable level of care for children and families in the Borough. Ofsted had also commented on the ability to stabilise the service in their recent inspection and the positive impact this had had on service.


The turn over of staff had reduced from 40% in 2014 to 15.6% in 2017 which was below the national average. The vacancy rate had also reduced from 14.1% to 6.8% which was again below the national average of 17%. As a result the use of agency staff had decreased which allowed for a more consistent approach with customers and installed more stability within the team which in turn had increased the teams moral. However turnover had slight crept up since September 2017 due to the successful Ofsted inspection. Since October 2017 nine social workers had been recruited, with seven of these experienced.


Addition funding had been secured through the family safeguarding model for the next 18 months, but case loads were still high at approximately seventeen cases, these still needed to be reduced to thirteen or fourteen cases.


Locally a project had taken place in 2015 in the South East which developed a regional protocol through the Memorandum of Cooperation. At the time eighteen of the nineteen South East authorities had signed up, however it was thought that some of the inadequate rated Local Authorities may chose to opt out of the Memorandum which could have an impact on staffing should they choose to pay a higher rate then set out in the memorandum. 


In response to the Committee’s queries the following points were made:


·         There was also a saving from recruitment costs which should be included in the report, as this would probably be approximately £140k.

·         A review had been undertaken to ensure that the incentives were consistent with neighbouring authorities, Bracknell Forest were fairly consistent however this would be kept under review.

·         The retention payment was paid after the completion of the first year.

·         A variety of reasons had been given during staffs exit interviews including, moving out of the area, moving to a different authority or getting jobs at Cafcass.

·         Often staff were only in post for 6/7 years due to the difficult and complex nature of the role which resulted in staff wanting to take a different career path.

·         Higher rates of pay wasn’t given as a key reason for staff leaving.

·         Without the incentive it was expected that staff would leave, Southampton had reduced their incentive by 5% which had resulted in staff loss. There was such a shortage of Children’s Social Workers that they would be able to get jobs elsewhere.

·         A much wider council wide review was being undertaken on staff retention in order to help recruit to specific posts. It was hoped that this would help to stabilise the workforce.

·         Turnover would be monitored over the next year to see if Surrey County Council coming out of the memorandum would have an impact on staffing levels.

·         The market retention was not part of staffs basic pay and couldn’t be built into to basic pay due to the job evaluation.

·         Staff were supported throughout to ensure they stay as long as possible. They received training and support and the managers doors were always open.

·         The Council were currently working with Buckinghamshire University and Royal Holloway University with seven final year students currently on their placements at Bracknell Forest, with six of them already expressing an interest to apply for jobs at Bracknell.

·         Bracknell Forest were the lead authority in Berkshire for the Step up to Social initiative.

·         It was thought that a South West apprentice scheme would be set up nationally next year with many Family Support Workers already expressing an interest in applying.

·         It was difficult for a Adults Social Worker to move over to become a Children’s Social Worker as there was different training, law and placement pathways.



The Committee considered the concerns that had been raised at Local Joint Committee regarding the unrest within the Adults Social Care Social Workers and asked for this to be raised with the Director and Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing.


RESOLVED that the Employment Committee agree for the extension of the market premia and retention payments for children’s social workers until 32 March 2020.








Supporting documents: