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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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£1.4m spent hiring temporary social workers in 12 months

Cumbria County Council spent nearly £1.4 million on hiring temporary social workers, new figures reveal.

But the authority is now staging a major recruitment drive for more permanent children’s services staff to reduce costs.

Figures released under a Freedom of Information Act request show the council’s total spend on social workers from recruitment agencies was more than £1.35m between December 2012 and December 2013.

The report also reveals that the authority currently employs 17 social workers through agencies.

It is charged £38.77 per hour by agencies for providing qualified team managers, while the lowest charge of £27.72 is for a level 2 social worker.

Cumbria County Council says its rate of social worker vacancies covered by agency staff is 9.5 per cent – below the national average of 14 per cent.

A spokesman said additional posts within the children’s services department were agreed for 2013-14 and experienced, permanent social workers are now being recruited.

“This would further reduce the number of agency staff,” he added.

The authority is recruiting a team manager to lead the child and family support team. The successful candidate will be responsible for the service for children in care as well as those who have left care.

Four enhanced social workers and two social workers are also being recruited to join the child protection, child and family support, youth offending, and children looked after teams.

All the roles are based in Whitehaven and Workington and will support the council’s ‘change programme’ and contribute to “making a real difference to the safety and well-being of Cumbria’s children”.

The positions are also eligible for appointment bonuses of up to £5,000 which is awarded after three months in the job.

The county’s children’s services department has come under fire recently following a series of blunders in which confidential information was mistakenly sent to the wrong families.

And former boss Julia Morrison quit in March for health reasons.

That came after the service was rated inadequate by Ofsted for failing to adequately protect the most vulnerable youngsters.

Anne Burns, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, told our sister paper The Cumberland News that there had been “some issues” with recruiting social workers. But she insisted that improvements are being made and the feeling within the department is “more positive about the way forward”.

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