One of the most prominent social work directors is standing down
before operational responsibility is removed from his role,
writes David Brown.
Michael Leadbetter, president of the Association of Directors of
Social Services, is expected to leave Essex council at the end of
His post will then be incorporated in the new position of
‘deputy chief executive – learning and social care’. It will focus
on commissioning service outcomes, service improvement and
performance, while heads of service report to the chief
Similar models are already operating in Surrey and
Leadbetter outlined the reasons for leaving in a letter to other
social services directors and to Denise Platt, chief inspector of
the Social Services Inspectorate.
“I have been a director of social services for over 16 years,
and have been used to operating in a particular manner with line
management responsibility and for operational and support services.
The new post of deputy chief executive will not carry these
responsibilities in the same way” he wrote.
“Secondly, my view is that the county councillors may well feel
easier with an appointment of a candidate who will need to be more
comfortable than I would be with the change of focus,
responsibility and accountability from chief officers to elected
“I have reached this decision with some reluctance, and had
there not been such a reorganisation in Essex I would have been
delighted to carry on,” he said.
Leadbetter, who will be taking early retirement with a
redundancy package, was recently appointed to lead the national
task force on social work and practice learning. He continues to
sit on the department of health’s research liaison group, and is a
member of the President of the Family Divisions’ inter-disciplinary
After leaving Essex, which received a two-star rating recently,
he hopes to find a new role involving his interest in children,
human resources or training.