England still has highest vacancy rate in the UK

England still has the highest vacancy rate in the UK despite continuing efforts to reform the profession, Community Care can reveal.

England still has the highest vacancy rate in the UK despite continuing efforts to reform the profession, Community Care can reveal.

English councils have reduced their overall vacancy rates from 11% in 2009 and 2010 to 9% in 2011 on average, according to our annual Freedom of Information investigation.

But England is still lagging behind Scotland and Wales, where the rates have been reduced from 8% and 9% respectively in 2010 to 7% in 2011.

Ruth Stark (pictured), manager of the Scottish Association of Social Workers, said Scotland’s consistently lower vacancy rate reflected the relatively high levels of work satisfaction in the country.

“Implementation of the Changing Lives review has encouraged competence and confidence in the workforce, although there is still much to be done as we face continued constraints in public spending,” she said.

“The other significant difference is the political support for public services and the support for the workforce given by our parliamentarians.”

Ellis Williams, ADSS Cymru’s lead director on workforce issues, said the figures appeared to show continuing improvements in the stability of the workforce in Wales.

“Adult services’ vacancy levels remain similar to our experience of previous years, while in children’s services the position is more complex,” he said.

“Overall, however, the outlook continues to be encouraging, a situation which I would like to see confirmed when the official figures [for Wales] are published later this year.”

Big regional variations have also emerged throughout England over the past 12 months. Rates have fallen in London and the South East, as well as in the North and East of England, but they have risen in the Midlands and the South West.

“There is a degree of mismatch between the number of people wanting to work in a certain area and the number of jobs,” said John Nawrockyi, secretary of the Association of Directors of Adult Services’ workforce development network.

“People will have to be more flexible about where they live and work.”

Community Care did not receive enough responses from Northern Ireland’s health and social care trusts to include them in this year’s analysis.

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