Director calls for pay rises for staff

Some of the extra cash the government has
given to social services should be used to fund pay increases for
social care staff, Mike Leadbetter, president of the Association of
Directors of Social Services, told a session on recruitment and

Leadbetter, also head of Essex
social services, said: “Some of the 6 per cent the government
promised will need to go on salary increases.” He would also like
to see the average wage for experienced social workers rise to
£30,000 a year.

asked by delegates whether this should apply to all local
authorities, he said that was not possible, as they would always
pay differing rates. However, the market rate for social care staff
was rising.

Essex paid an extra £2,000 to its social workers, we took
staff from councils such as Hertfordshire and Suffolk. They then
increased their wages attracting staff from their neighbours. This
process will continue to push up wages.”

also said that wage problems existed at all levels – for example,
“care workers earned £6 an hour but could go and stack shelves
in a supermarket for £7.50 an hour”.

Siobhan Nolan of Ealing social
services told delegates about the council’s social care access
programme (Scap). The scheme aims to recruit and train social
workers from the local community and was a response to a Social
Services Inspectorate report in 2000 that had identified skills
gaps and an over-reliance on agency staff. Scap was a partnership
with the New Deal and the Employment Service and recruited by using
the local press. It involved senior management and unions in
planning and sponsoring. Trainees were paid two-thirds of the wage
of a qualified social worker. Twenty people were trained for six
months with 16 taken on full-time.

McAllister, northern regional manager with recruitment agency
Social Work Solutions, welcomed the creation of a three-year degree
and a post-qualifying award for social work, saying that compared
with overseas social workers, UK trained staff were
under-qualified. He added that agencies needed to be considered
more as consultancies. They could provide training and planned work
such as court reports along with recruiting overseas staff. But
Leadbetter and Nolan said one of their goals was to reduce reliance
upon agencies because of costs.


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