Councils struggling to retain social workers, warns LGA

Local authorities in England and Wales are struggling to retain children’s social workers, a survey of council HR chiefs has revealed.

In the survey of more than 200 HR directors, by the Local Government Association (LGA), 85% of councils with retention difficulties admitted that they struggle to keep children’s social workers – far outstripping all other areas of work.

The preliminary results of the annual Local Government Workforce Survey also show that nearly eight out of ten councils with trouble recruiting staff find children’s social workers the most difficult to employ.

These staffing problems make reforms to the child protection system more urgent than ever to prevent vulnerable children slipping through the safety net, according to Baroness Shireen Ritchie, chair of the Children and Young People Board at the LGA.

“The cuts in funding to councils must impress on everyone the urgency of getting on with these reforms,” she said.

“Initiatives to increase the number of social workers are on track but were always going to take a while to make a difference. Action is needed now to make sure councils can keep the social workers they have, and that they can spend as much time as possible working with the children who need them.”

In September, a poll of more than 600 social workers, by Personnel Today sister title Community Care, revealed that more than four-fifths (82%) have seen their caseloads increase over the past year.

Another Baby P case is “waiting to happen” unless the Government addresses the excessive caseloads of social workers, the respondents warned.

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