Agenda item

Agenda item

The Strategy to further improve Children Social Care Services

The report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services Directorate is attached.


Following Ofsted’s inspection in 2017 which judged Manchester’s Children’s Services to no longer be inadequate, the service had continued to make progress and improvements in the services it provided.  This was evidenced through independent peer reviews and through Ofsted’s focused visits in 2018 and more recently December 2019. However, it was evidently clear in order for the service to continue to make improvements as the Council strived for Manchester’s Children’s Services to be judged a ‘good or better’ by Ofsted, a key success factor was for there to be a stable, talented and confident workforce. 


It was explained that failure to achieve this could potentially undermine and reverse the progress that has been made to date, thus bringing a reputational and arguably financial risk the council.  Consequently,  the proposed strategy was intended to be flexible/adaptive in order to respond to changing fiscal and social policy over the next five years. As a result the strategic approach to service delivery would continue to be informed by a dynamic Directorate Business Plan which would be focussed on delivering safe, effective and efficient services.


In addition, the approach to service planning, delivery and service improvement and the basis for the services strategic endeavours would continue to be informed by the ‘Our Manchester’ behaviours, principles, relationship focussed practice, the signs of safety, passionate about our ways of working and performance; tracked and monitored via measurable goals and objectives articulated in our service practice model (Our Practice in Manchester) and Directorate Plan.


It was highlighted that improving the quality of social work practice was a key short, medium and long term priority for the service. To date, there had been significant progress with regards to the ‘infrastructure’ to support and underpin this and continuous improvement through self-assessment was now an embedded approach and would continue throughout the next five years.  As such, the report set out the following financial incentive proposals for the recruitment and retention of social workers, the impact of which would be reviewed 18 months after implementation and in accordance with the market rate policy to measure the success of the approach:-


Social Worker Level 1

£2,000 retention payment after 2 years’ service; paid either in a lump sum or alternatively in 3 instalments of £666 on their 2 year anniversary, 6 months later and a further 6 months after that. We propose to engage staff on the preferred option.

Senior Social Worker

£5,000 market rate supplement,

Team Manager

Continuation of £5,487 market rate supplement - supported with a consistent and clear set out objectives identified in About You.


It was noted that the aim of these proposals was to mitigate against a twofold risk associated with an unsuccessful recruitment and retention strategy and a continued reliance on high cost agency staff, who by the nature of their employment are less likely to buy into the organisation's vision and objectives.


Furthermore, it was explained that the proposed the initiatives as set out in the report would cost  £2.335m in 2020/21, reducing to £2.061m from 2021/22 onwards and would be funded through the effective use of:-


·                The Social Care Grant as indicated in the current budget plan for 2020/21.

·                Application of a vacancy factor of 10%, which is a reduction of 10% against the performance since September 2019 and would be considered ‘healthy; this would compare favourably to a national turnover and vacancy rate. In addition this also allows for student/new social workers to come into the service thus bringing a dynasim and creating opportunities for progression.

·                Incorporating the current ‘Families First Team’ within Manchester’s Early Help Service to strengthen and extend the reach of the Troubled Families programme, which will release monies that then can be redirected and avoid any compulsory redundancies.




1.         To note that the grading and pay changes referred to in the report will be considered by the Personnel Committee or dealt with under powers delegated to Chief Officers.


2.         Having given due regard to the strategic ambitions, challenges in recruitment of qualified children and families social workers in order for the Council to have a stable, confident and talented social work workforce, to approve the funding proposals to provide the budget for the grading and pay changes referred to in the report.


3.         Agrees that the service continues to actively promote the successes, initiatives and activity of the Education and Children Services and Neighbourhood Directorates in order to continually improve the experiences and outcomes of Manchester’s children and young people.

Supporting documents: