Doncaster Council has started to tackle its high children’s social worker vacancy rate, including through better pay, according to director Gareth Williams.
Williams, who was seconded to Doncaster from Leicestershire Council in March to oversee the implementation of an improvement plan at the struggling authority, said salaries had been reviewed and were now better than at some neighbouring authorities.
A Community Care survey earlier this year found the council had a 19% vacancy rate for children’s social workers as of 31 January; however the authority is aiming to reduce the children’s services department’s vacancy rate to 7% by 2010.
Williams: Salaries have been reviewed
Williams said: “We are starting to recruit, retain and motivate staff of the very highest calibre. Salaries for children’s social work have been reviewed and now better those at some rival local authorities.
“As well as the financial incentive, I guarantee that any social workers coming to Doncaster will get the training and support they need to progress their careers.”
Andrea Milner, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, added: “We have many excellent staff here in Doncaster and I am determined that we will turn things around and be able to offer children an outstanding service.”
‘Bad publicity putting off potential recruits’
The claims comes despite warnings last month from the area’s safeguarding children board chair, Roger Thompson, that bad publicity over several high-profile child deaths in Doncaster had put off prospective social work candidates from applying.
The council has been hit by severe criticisms of its safeguarding performance in a number of serious case reviews, its annual performance assessment last year by Ofsted, and in a review this year by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
The reports led children’s secretary Ed Balls to appoint an external board to scrutinise progress at the council and order Doncaster to appoint a new senior management team to transform services.