Sunderland council is stepping up efforts to address staff shortages as its currently 79 permanent staff short of what is needed to run a new trust model launching next year.
The latest council report on plans for the trust, published in October, revealed the council estimates 235 permanent staff are required to deliver the new model but services only had 156 employees. Another 114 staff are currently in agency posts.
The trust will formally take over the running of the council’s children’s services next year, following a negative Ofsted report published last year.
Meeting the recruitment targets was “crucial” to the trust’s organisational performance and cutting agency spending but the council faced high competition from neighbouring authorities, the report said.
Still on track
Louise Farthing, the portfolio holder for children’s services, said the children’s services company is “still very much on track to become fully operational in April” and the council was stepping up investment.
“We have taken significant steps to address the recruitment and retention of social workers with an active recruitment programme coupled with a strong commitment to reduce the number of agency staff in the long term. This is something we have backed with £16 million of further investment to strengthen management and support and take on additional frontline staff,” she said.
“The shortage of qualified social workers is a national issue which is going to take time to resolve but we have invested significant resources in a bigger workforce, with smaller caseloads, good supervision, and smaller teams and our message to any social workers thinking of coming to work here is that Sunderland is becoming a great place to do social work.”