Social services chiefs are increasing their share of children’s
services directors jobs as councils open posts up to competition, a
Community Care survey has revealed.
A poll of 116 of England’s 150 social services departments finds
that a quarter of councils which have appointed directors have
chosen social care professionals.
This contrasts with a survey conducted last October that found just
one-sixth of jobs had gone to social services leaders.
The latest survey finds 67 councils have made appointments, which
is nearly twice the number last October, while a further 24 plan to
appoint before the end of the year.
Social care leaders said the sector’s increasing share reflected
the fact that more councils were advertising posts
Former Association of Directors of Social Services president Andrew
Cozens said the first batch of councils to make appointments had
mostly placed chief education officers as children’s services
directors, leaving social services directors with adult care.
Nigel Druce, strategic adviser for social services at the
Improvement and Development Agency, said that councils were now
thinking more about who to appoint rather than being safe “and
saying ‘let’s retain the boys and girls that we’ve got’.”
This is underlined by the fact that 10 of the 17 social care
leaders to be appointed have come from outside the appointing
These include Telford & Wrekin Council social services director
John Coughlan, who last week landed the role director of children’s
services at Hampshire Council.
Coughlan, who chairs the ADSS children and families committee,
said: “The point that we have been making all along is don’t read
the initial appointments as too indicative of future
The poll also raises concerns about an exodus of social care
leaders from the field, with one-fifth of those not appointed to
children’s roles retiring. Most of the rest have been appointed as
directors of adult services.
Commenting on the retirements, Coughlan said: “We are concerned
that we don’t find ourselves with a loss of experience, expertise
and talent.” However, a number of retiring directors may have been
influenced by government proposals on pensions to raise the early
retirement age in local government from 50 to 55 years.