5-Year Social Care Workforce Strategy
- Meeting of Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020 10.00 am (Item 27.)
Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services Directorate
This report sets out the strategic direction of the service and its workforce plan, including an approach to recruitment and retention for the next five years.
The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which set out the strategic direction of the service and its workforce plan, including an approach to recruitment and retention for the next five years.
Officers referred to the main points and themes within the report which included:
· The five year strategy for recruiting and retaining qualified social workers;
· The introduction of financial incentives for social work staff;
· An update on the current recruitment campaign;
· Performance management; and
· Service redesign and development.
The Chair of the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee informed Members that her Committee’s HR Subgroup had considered a report on this issue in October 2019. She commented that officers had previously not been in favour of offering retention bonuses and asked why a decision had since been made for social workers to be offered financial incentives to stay with the Council. She also asked how the workforce strategy would fit in with the work on racial equality.
Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:
· The use of agency staff;
· Social work caseloads;
· How many social work staff were shielding and what impact was that having on the service; and
· Race equality in relation to the service’s staff and children and young people.
The Deputy Director of Children’s Services reported that there had been a significant reduction in the use of agency staff, which had included successfully recruiting a number of agency staff to become permanent Council employees. He advised that reducing the number of agency staff was beneficial from a financial perspective and in enabling the service to build a different culture. He informed Members that the strategy to retain social work staff was not just about financial incentives but about professional and organisational development and providing a career pathway. He reported that, as the pandemic had resulted in more home working, it had highlighted more longer-term opportunities for the service to use agile working and that this would be useful in recruiting and retaining social workers with caring responsibilities, particularly women.
The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services advised that the use of agency staff, staff retention and turnover would be used as measures of the strategy’s success and he suggested that the Committee might want to receive a further report on the impact of the strategy in 12 months’ time. He reported that the proposed retention payment was different from that which had been previously proposed as it was on a sliding scale of payback and linked to the service’s ambitions.
The Deputy Director of Children’s Services advised that the average caseload across the locality and permanence teams was 18 and that very few social work staff had a caseload of over 23, although he acknowledged the complexity of some of the work staff were dealing with. He reported that approximately 16 staff were shielding for medical reasons but advised that this was not impacting on the service’s ability to carry out its responsibilities.
The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services reported that the service had a high proportion of staff from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups but that, at present, too few were in senior positions and that the service was working to address this. He suggested that Members might want to look at this issue in a further report, to either this Committee or the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee. The Chair commented that this would be discussed in the work programming session, which was taking place after the meeting. The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services informed Members that work was also taking place to address issues faced by BAME children and young people, for example, that that they were disproportionately likely to be in the criminal justice system.
To note the report and that this area of work would continue to be monitored through this Committee and the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee.