Agency social worker pay to be capped to that of permanent staff

DfE proposes national rules to reduce costs and use of locum staff in statutory children's services, but directors say change will not come fast enough as agency heads warn proposals will worsen shortages

Image of payroll file and calculator (credit: vinnstock / Adobe Stock)
(credit: vinnstock / Adobe Stock)

What is the most likely outcome of the proposed rules on agency work in children's services?

  • More agency workers leaving social work in children's services (81%, 617 Votes)
  • More agency workers taking permanent children's services posts (13%, 95 Votes)
  • Little or no impact (6%, 47 Votes)

Total Voters: 759

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Agency social worker pay in would be capped to the equivalent earned by permanent staff under government plans to reduce the use and cost of locums in statutory children’s services.

The Department for Education (DfE) has proposed introducing national rules to regulate the use of agency staff in response to concerns that their increasing use is destabilising the workforce and adversely affecting children and families through high staff turnover.

As well as capping the rates councils pay for agency staff, the proposed rules – published for consultation yesterday as part of the DfE’s response to the care review – would ban the use of so-called project teams and bar early-career practitioners from agency work.

They would be brought into force in spring 2024.

The DfE said there were “many excellent social workers working for a local authority via an agency who are delivering for vulnerable children and families as part of the workforce.”

Agency ‘overreliance’ leading to instability – DfE

“However, overreliance on agency social work resource has led to workforce instability, churn and high costs,” it said.

“This makes it more difficult for social workers to consolidate learning, build expertise and develop quality relationships with children and families. Certain conditions imposed by some agencies, such as capped caseloads and fully remote working, continue to increase pressures on social workers who are permanently employed within local authorities.

“Such practices embed disparities into the workforce and put at risk stable and sustained relationships with families and colleagues.”

It said national rules were needed because existing regional memoranda of understanding, while showing some success in reducing costs, were “fragile”.

“A key issue raised is that the regional MoUs can be challenging in a context where the rules and procedures are different to a neighbouring region,” it said.

Proposed agency staff rules

  • All procurement of agency staff should follow national rules.
  • National price caps on what local authorities may pay per hour for locums.
  • A requirement for social workers who graduated in or after April 2024 to have a minimum of five years’ post-qualified experience working within children’s social care and completion of the ASYE to be appointed to an agency post.
  • A ban on agency project teams.
  • A requirement for employers to request and provide references for all agency social worker candidates.
  • That councils do not engage agency workers for a period of three months after they have left a substantive role within the same region (excluding certain exceptions).
  • A requirement for a minimum six-week notice period for agency social workers.
  • The collection and sharing of core agency and pay data, to support better workforce planning and the ability to monitor, enforce and assess the impact of the proposals.

National price cap proposal

Its headline proposal is to cap the rates local authorities pay to agencies at a national level.

It suggested the capped price would consist of the worker’s basic pay, holiday pay and employer pension contribution – which agency workers are entitled to after 12 weeks with an employer – the employer’s national insurance contribution and a fee for the agency.

The DfE said its aim would be to “bring agency workers’ pay more fairly in line with substantive workers’ pay”, with basic pay for locums being no more than the average for a permanent post.

While the department has rejected a separate care review proposal to bring in national pay scales for social workers, it said it wanted to see “greater national consistency and fairness around pay” for practitioners doing the same role in different councils, whether agency or employed.

Most councils follow the National Joint Council for Local Government pay agreement, which has a 43-point national pay spine, though it is up to authorities to determine where they place different job roles on this. As a result of this and supplements designed to support recruitment and retention, there were differences in pay between authorities for the same role for employed staff.

‘Fragile’ regional agreements

Existing regional memoranda typically involve pay caps for specific roles. However, the DfE said these were “fragile” because of inconsistencies in rates between regions, lack of transparency and enforcement of rates and competition between authorities for the same pool of staff.

The proposals follow longstanding calls from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services for the DfE to regulate locum work in the face of agency practices described by its president, Steve Crocker, as “profiteering”.

Crocker described the DfE’s proposals as “sensible” but said the 15-month timeline for implementation was “too long”, and that the DfE needed to move faster.

Councils ‘need faster action on curbing agency work’

“Local authorities are facing real recruitment and retention challenges now, particularly amongst our social workers which, in the short term, is leading to an increasing reliance upon agency staff to help us meet the growing levels of need we are seeing across our communities,” he said.

“At the same time, we are seeing increasingly aggressive recruitment tactics being employed by agencies to attract our staff and the costs of buying back their services spiralling.”

However, agency leaders said the proposals themselves were misguided.

“The staffing shortage in social work needs to be addressed, including through tackling the underlying funding crisis,” said Recruitment and Employment Confederation chief executive Neil Carberry.

“But these proposals will do the opposite. Banning workers from freely choosing who they work for and ending team-based service delivery will damage services and drive people out of social work. A sensible framework to maintain quality and reduce unnecessary costs would be a far better choice.

Plans ‘likely to worsen staff shortages’

“These proposals are likely to worsen staff shortages and burnout, underpin a lack of flexibility for staff and embed high caseloads. They treat skilled social workers as a commodity, rather than engaging with them as professionals.”

He added: “We know many people choose to do agency work to enjoy the flexibility and working conditions – this has not been addressed in the government’s proposal. The sector needs to understand why people prefer to work via an agency. Without this, we are just scraping the surface of the staffing problems.

“The REC has been engaging with the Department for Education on these issues in recent months and we look forward to opening up a more positive conversation with a view to explore sustainable, realistic steps that work for service users, first and foremost.”

Jonathan Wadsworth, managing director of the agency Charles Hunter Associates, said: “The consultation is proposing a clear attack on vital hard working agency social workers. It is seemingly an underhand tactic to forcibly make prospective agency workers go permanent. It is essential that all stakeholders remember the critical staffing shortages we face and that this is only going to make things worse.”

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114 Responses to Agency social worker pay to be capped to that of permanent staff

  1. Michelle February 3, 2023 at 1:38 pm #

    This isn’t going to have the desired effect on retention rates. Social workers will simply stop practising and move into other non-social work roles with far less stress to bear.

    • Beverley February 5, 2023 at 10:04 am #

      Totally agree – what they seem to have conveniently forgotten is that most workers do fifty hours minimum a week so actually the hourly rate isn’t what is offered- just working 37 hours a week will have catastrophic effects on service

      • Another Agency Worker February 6, 2023 at 10:29 am #

        100% agree… this is so true… I’ve worked both perm and agency and I would NEVER go back to being perm. Feeling trapped, bullied and lack of support (from some managers) was horrible.

        This solidifies that my decision to retrain in a total different area was the best thing I could have started doing. By the time this comes in ill be gone no longer paying SWE out of my ‘agency wage’, working more than my contracted hours or being stressed out due to work load demands !!!!!

        Why does it always feel like social workers have to suffer… ☹ ?????

        • Louise February 13, 2023 at 4:56 pm #

          Please can I ask what you’re retraining to do? I need some tips! So stressed about it

    • Anita February 6, 2023 at 7:45 am #

      As an agency worker this will only push me to leave the profession. As an agency social worker we are often given the heaviest caseload. Very little care towards our mental health and wellbeing. A high proportion of agency social workers are from ethnic minorities…… why? is the question that should be asked. Ethnic minority social workers are often marginalised and discouraged from applying for senior posts and often have to jump over hurdles like leadership programs where white social workers don’t have go through such programs before obtaining a senior management position. The highest an ethnic minority SW can rise comfortably within a local authority is Team Manager. The numbers drop significantly as one goes up the levels.

      • JJ February 6, 2023 at 10:14 pm #

        I agree Anita, this is yet again an attack against black and brown people. I have been a SW for over 6 years and in every LA I have worked so far, shows no signs of promoting black and brown faces in management. That limits my upward mobility. I worked as a perm and for three years I had to borrow money from fam to pay rent and use my credit cards for food. I have two young children who deserves better. The problem with the lack of opportunities for black and brown people is that it stems from that notion: if you black or brown you need to be exceptional to be considered but if your face fits you only have to be mediocre. This is obviously not the case for all colleagues, there are some excellent Team Managers out there. It is starting to feel like the profession that is meant to stand up for equality is perpetuating the wider racial norms. Sad but expected. We need a petition because this goes the principles of free market/ anti competitive!!!

        • Veronica February 8, 2023 at 6:27 pm #

          @JJ and Anita. You have gone off on a tangent This particular issue is definitely not about race. I’m also a black person. I have 20 years experience as a social worker. 12 years permanent, 8 years as an agency worker. The decision to do agency work is a personal preference/choice for all.
          Permanent positions and opportunities for progression are available to everyone. Please don’t make this about race.

          • Liz February 10, 2023 at 11:13 pm #

            Veronica, your case may be different, but other professional colleagues have the right to talk about their lived experiences. You might just be one of the lucky black social workers who is yet to experience racism or you are in denial.

            Racism takes many shapes and forms: may be overt or subtle.
            Racism is very much real and alive both in the national public space or work environment unless we choose to bury our head in the sand, hoping it will go away or choose to play second-hand feedle. Some category of people will do everything to undermine you or, in a worse case scenario, do everything to destroy your career if they feel threatened by your academic achievements, intelligence, and competence. This is the only reason I left perm and went locum so I can decide to leave with dignity whenever I feel the political climate is no longer sustainable. I worked hard for my qualifications, and I’m not going to sit and watch someone who walked into a position of power with little or no effort other than skin colour to destroy my years of hard work.

            What I’m trying to convey here is that social workers choose to locum for different reasons, not necessarily for the money.
            People do not really understand the financial risks associated with working as a locum. As a locum, you don’t get paid if you go off sick, on holidays, annual leave, maternity, or Bereavement leave. No pay increase, employer NI or pension contributions enjoyed by perm social workers. Above all, most managers do not hide their feelings and belief that locums are paid to bear their team’s most complex and heavy workload burdens., which if given to perm social workers, they abandon them and go off sick.

        • Annon March 2, 2023 at 7:13 am #

          In my team I have a 2 senior pracs, a team manager, manager and senior manager that are all black, as was my manager in my previous role. In our LA there is plenty of room for progression for all ethnicities and diversity is something that we promote in all aspects of our work, and myself as a white social worker feel very proud that we have a team like that. I think it would be unfair to stereotype all authorities.

    • Anonymous February 6, 2023 at 6:42 pm #

      Agree. I for one would leave SW permanently!

    • Jenny February 6, 2023 at 9:32 pm #

      Totally agree. It will only backfire. As usual they fail to address the reason for poor retention of permanent staff. They would also need to address the issue of benefits agency staff do not receive such as sickpay, holiday pay..etc which was compensated for by a higher rate of pay.

    • JS February 8, 2023 at 10:23 pm #

      It’s significant for the government to understand that the Social Worker role continues to be undervalued. The Social Worker continues to be disrespected due to Social Workers not having a voice like health workers and any other civil servants.

      Other Civil Servants are paid per hour and when I say per hour it is per hour. Nurses and Doctors will work for example from 9am to 5pm and will be paid for hours worked. If they work extra hours they are paid overtime.

      They leave their work and switch off as they handover work to other nurses who take over shifts. This is just an example and does not only apply to nurses.

      Social Workers sometimes put an extra 20 to 30 hours of week and hold double case loads and with this do not handover their cases from shift to shift.

      Social Workers are said to work from 9am to 5:30pm but this is not the reality. With this Social Worker’s are already underpaid as it stands.

      In any other job or in a private company or the NHS, if health workers worked overtime that amounted to 10 hours to 30 hours per week, I wonder what would happen?

      Social Worker’s who are employed from 9am to 5:30pm have to undertake visits to families outside the contracted working hours to ensure the safety of children and families.

      It is significant for the government to consider paying Social Worker’s based on the hours worked in real time like any other professionals.

      That means if the cap is to be considered and Social
      Workers evidence that they have worked overtime then that time should be paid to reflect the reality of the work done.

      Without this, there is a likelihood that there will be a collapse of Children Social Care as the overtime Social Workers are already providing could be calculated as loss of income based on Social Workers giving free hours that are not compensated for by the government.

      Social Workers are in the job because they are change agents and they care for the vulnerable. Social Worker’s are equally vulnerable as they do not have a voice or representation.

      There is the reality and experiences of practitioners in the field of which would be significant should the government and decision makers want to know.

      In order to understand this there is need for consultation and should this be undertaken, leaders would learn that Social Workers might be earning less than minimum wages in realtime based on the hours they put into their work.

      With this I am of the view that the above proposals could lead to serious challenges in the profession and this would cause social problems due to staff shortages.

      Currently all the extra hours or overtime hours worked by Social Workers could be perceived as charitable hours donated to the government. This is not voluntarily, but due to the nature of the challenges of the job.

      We care for our Service Users and I hope that the government will evidence that they care for us too and reconsider the measures that they are proposing.

    • TJ February 17, 2023 at 9:30 am #

      I will try to leave social work if my pay is reduced it’s an horrendous job as it is

    • Alyson February 22, 2023 at 7:44 am #

      I for one will leave Social Work if this takes place, not only is this an infringement on my ability to earn the pay level that I request, but also a way of the government consistently refusing my rights to earn in the way I choose to. I have worked as an agency social worker for over 20 years, bringing to many of the local authorities I work experience, ability to progress the services and extended knowledge of children legislation. I asked the question as to why the DFE is not looking at increasing permanent workers wages in line with that of Agency this would boost morale encouraged retention. 95% of the local authorities that I have worked in there is a significant culture of bullying blaming scapegoating by being an agency worker. You are able to make the decision to remain or stay. I do not believe that agency workers are the cause of the recruitment and retention issues of local authorities. I believe that the recruitment issue is around low, pay poor conditions and high burnout. What is not mentioned in the article is that agency workers are taxed significantly more than any other worker in Social Work, but we do not get holiday pay or sick pay and yet you find we are often travelling long distances to fulfil the posts that are vacant. This will make the situation much worse for local authorities as workers will just choose to leave the profession. I know that I for one will not tolerate any further restrictions on my ability to work within this field. Nor will I be forced to to be silenced regarding my right to choose how I work when I get paid. Social workers advocate for their children and families. We should be advocating for us out also..

  2. linda February 3, 2023 at 1:42 pm #

    I am so pleased that at last proper measures are being taken to address the issues of using too many agency staff at eye watering cost to all the councils.

    Maybe the money saved can help to employ more permanent staff and this will help reduce case loads. Ultimately this means better outcomes for the families and children we serve.

    • Cleontis James-Cooke February 5, 2023 at 12:13 am #

      This comment is quite laughable really! When was the last time government acted in anyone’s best interest? This is just a cost cutting measure that will ideally help children and families. However, the reality is, the savings will not reach families and like nursing, teaching, etc a bandaid approach is being used to to mend a broken dam. Agency staff is the latest target. The same disdain people have for agency staff should be directed at corporations that are not paying their taxes to fund public services. A giant corporation just made 40 BILLION in profits- where is your disdain?

      • Anonymous February 6, 2023 at 6:43 pm #

        Couldn’t agree more!

      • Annie February 14, 2023 at 11:25 pm #

        My thought exactly! Tinkering with agency workers is the wrong solution to 13 years of austerity/underfunding!! Pay permanent workers well, support them well (no bullying!!), have enough social workers to meet demand, join a union social workers, our colleagues across public services are striking, why aren’t we? The government should focus on lifting people out of poverty, we need Sure Start back, we need good mental health services. I am agency only because I had enough of unreasonable caseloads, bullying managers (who seem to think going through menopause can be addressed with a (swear word) development plan!!) Any way, my message is Join a Union, and Don’t Vote Tory – for your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the vulnerable people we (try our best to) serve.
        Oh, if the DfE do those things to further regulate agency staff (ha ha Tories always on about deregulating so they can line their pockets and those of their rich chums – suddenly want to regulate…) then I am leaving SW – agency work has enabled me to work part time, and I am carer for 2 disabled relatives. I would have to be full time on permanent wages, and that is just an impossibility.

    • Anthony Davies February 5, 2023 at 7:51 am #

      Your idea of a great outcome sounds great, however a country mile from reality.

    • Godly February 5, 2023 at 1:30 pm #

      Linda, being a agency worker is not just about the money but about flexibility to get out when you need to rather than the 3 months notice. Most permanent workers I know, are forever off sick whilst agency workers keep things going

      • Diane simpson February 12, 2023 at 2:15 pm #

        It goes both ways. Having SW who come and go is not good for the children and families as it is unsettling. And permanent workers keep it going because agency staff don’t even want to work for some local authorities anyway

    • Nicola February 5, 2023 at 8:35 pm #

      As an agency worker and being in my current safeguarding role for over 3 years I get paid for 37 hours however work more like 50! With limited leave and no sickness, unlike the staff who take up to 3-6 months at a time I would argue I am more cost affecting than perm staff.

    • Dave February 6, 2023 at 3:31 pm #

      Having worked both permanently and as an agency worker, I rather think tnat you are way off beam Linda, this will not resolve matters, as matters stand we can’t recruit irrespective of whether you are permanent or agency. Remember agency workers have no sick pay, pension or holiday pay so they need a higher rate. More pry will leave the profession as is happening in tne NHS, expect social workers don’t enjoy tne love and support tnat tne NHS does, and ultimately this will result in more child deaths !

    • Abdul February 6, 2023 at 6:34 pm #

      I’m an agency social worker, who was earning £40 per hour in my last role, but worked 20-25 hours (sometimes 30) per week for free. I was working two positions, but getting paid for one. I was working all my bank holidays – for free, and no TOIL. Also, I was paying a huge amount in tax, and never had one day sick or absent. It ended up affecting my physical and emotional health, and I still have health issues. Permanent staff can have paid holidays and sick leave, and they generally don’t get the worst cases -agency staff do. As you were saying?

    • TJ February 17, 2023 at 9:34 am #

      Linda you will find it has the opposite effect there will be less social workers many are only still in the profession because they were able to go agency to half manage the burn out of the profession. Otherwise they would have left social work and found less stressful roles . There is a world outside of social work. Getting 30/40k for the horrendous stress of social work is hardly worth it may aswell work in a supermarket
      You will find your caseload increased and more stress and demand on you as a perm worker and I’d say you get no less than you deserve for your view on hard working agency workers

    • Anonymous March 1, 2023 at 6:07 am #

      Ask yourself why agency workers are needed ? Due to either perm staff being off sick, and teams unable to recruit and retain staff – why ? Often way too high case loads, stress, bullying and working extra hours for no pay and no better thought of, and of course burn out. Agency workers receive no sick pay holiday pay no pension so are not really any better off than perm workers but play a vital role in supporting teams who are short staffed, they will be more perm workers off sick if they have no agency workers to support the teams if the Gov start to pay agency the same pay rates as perm

  3. Jeff Williams February 3, 2023 at 1:55 pm #

    This will literally push social workers to take the decision to leave the field. Permanent staff are grossly underpaid, which is made worse by the cost of living crisis.
    Maybe if the government actually paid workers a more reasonable salary, people wouldn’t be leaving in droves. But this government would prefer to line the pockets of their friends, which is unadulterated nepotism and promotes cronyism.

    • JoH February 5, 2023 at 9:12 am #

      Couldn’t agree more. Its just another bully-boy stance being taken by this awful government.

  4. TCM February 3, 2023 at 1:56 pm #

    What a complete noun sense by so many people living in a parallel world? Same rates for Agency SW? No holiday, sick pay, etc? It will drive more SW out of the profession. Time for me to Leave as we are led by donkeys with a vision of stupid?

    • Jem February 5, 2023 at 1:30 pm #

      Very true. I don’t think many will choose this as a career

  5. JOHN February 3, 2023 at 1:58 pm #

    Absolutely ridiculous- it’s hard enough already without number crunching by the d of e

  6. Anne-Marie February 3, 2023 at 2:01 pm #

    These proposals are the fruits of panic

  7. David February 3, 2023 at 2:01 pm #

    Finally! The whole house of cards which is statutory social work is about to collapse. Either that or pay for permanent staff will have to drastically increase. Which is never going to happen. So it’s safe to assume that it’s about to collapse

  8. Bob February 3, 2023 at 2:07 pm #

    Think the question being ignored is why can’t councils maintain the permanent staff they have and have such high vacancies, they aren’t all going agency. It’s not like the role agency staff are filling isn’t being advertised.

    Us to be councils plugged the gaps with ASYE’s guess they are becoming less and less too.

  9. Ashleigh February 3, 2023 at 2:07 pm #

    The main reason individuals work for agency is due to the pay and that they have the flexibility to leave an authority within a shorter period time whereas permenant staff need to give 2-3 months notice. Agency work is not the way forward, as it brings a lot of resentment within teams as two people doing the same role get paid between £25 to £30 more for being an agency worker

    • Caroline February 6, 2023 at 3:20 pm #

      Given that agency workers get no hol pay, sick pay or pension they are not really much better off than perm staff
      Some teams would ground to a halt if it was t for the the work of agency staff
      Agency staff are not to blame, it’s the systems that expect staff to have high case loads, work long hours without pay, lack of care or respect for their workers and treating them like machines, a good manager would not have their staff working all hours, the jobs stressful enough without feeling bullied into working for free and getting no better thought of and no consideration for the mental well-being of staff and work life balance
      Local authorities biggest exploiters of staff

    • Alice February 6, 2023 at 9:32 pm #

      At no time have I been paid £25 – 30 more. I left perm tiles on an advanced practice wage and now get the equivalent of 6 / 7 weeks more a year. I get no sick pay no annual leave and my vendor to this is I get to leave with at least two weeks notice. So to be fair the extra money covers the fact I don’t get time off unless unpaid.

      I tend to get allocated the more complex cases – but to be fair this is potentially linked to the fact I’ll often be in teams with high numbers of asyes and I’ll have high levels of experience comparatively.

      Agency staff are often needed more frequently in the teams with poor management (not always) and in teams with high levels of dysfunction. For the slight increase in lag there can be a lot of crud to be made up for…

  10. Paul February 3, 2023 at 2:22 pm #

    Will not work. Couple councils tried it, workers left. So wiill they calculate holidau pay, recompense for not being council decent pension and sick pay….many perm staff get 6 months full, 6 month half pay. Plus, council save on HR costs and employer national insurance contributions. Couple years ago, i read in community care, someone calculated an agency worker on £35 ph cost council same as a perm worker taking into account costs i mentioned

  11. Christopher James February 3, 2023 at 2:35 pm #

    It’s not the use of agency workers that has led to workforce instability, churn and high costs. It’s the underfunding and undervaluing of the social work profession and the discrimination against the people it works with that has caused all this. That in turn causes workers to leave, many to use agency work as a way of doing what they love but at the same time surviving a hostile, broken system, leaving vacancies which no one wants to stay in, meaning local authorities have no choice but to fall back on agency work.

    As usual, this government is clueless.

  12. Lisa February 3, 2023 at 2:48 pm #

    I chose to work as an agency worker for the best part of my 20 year social work career. I would not take a permanent position due to the high levels of bullying that happens if your face does not appear to fit.I needed to ensure I could leave if I needed too. Social work bullying resulted in me ending up in hospital due to overdose and a 2 month stint on a life support machine!! This was not my intention. My intention was to end my life as I could not manage the situation any longer.
    I was told to answer the phone with ‘hello, social and caring services’ and yet my colleagues and I were treated like children, told what to write on statements for court and are given absolutely no support when facing particularly dangerous situations.In fact, it’s a case of shut up, go away and get on with it. I stupidly thought that after 6 years of university and in work training I would at least be considered a professional with skills and knowledge to bring to the role. Sadly this is just not the case!

    • Alec Fraher February 4, 2023 at 7:51 pm #

      I hope you’re OK now, Lisa, or at least on the mend, if that’s the right word. You’ve, needless to say, hit the nail on the head.

      Bullying is rife and condoned departmentally and endorsed systemically at industry level.

      Behaving openly and cooperatively, and knowingly working against the nefarious competitive processes were once a heralded hallmark within social work practice.

      Pitching services and staff against one another is simply abhorrent.

      Sadly, there’s huge money to be made from others misery and our industry leaders have been too quick to chase the cash.

      This isn’t new though.

      Former Heads of Service, themselves facing redundancy in the 90s, were encouraged to walk away with Departmental Budgets, joining VolOrgs or the commerce sectors as part of their severence package.

      In some instances contracts awarded to some VolOrgs included money set-a-side for their pending departure.

      Getting the cost of some services off the books is administratively speaking an efficiency saving..

      I find, and believe me I have tried, there’s no appetite for a closer look. I described the scenario in 2007 as ‘making Eron look like a walk in the park’.

      In a lengthy 10 year battle I started in 2009 the EU Ombudsman were poised to initiate a breach investigation into the wrongful use of procure procedure.

      The EU Ombudsman couldn’t because the administrative errors originated within UK authorities. The case was said not to meet the criminal standards for a prosecution of fraud although acknowledge that errors in decisions were made. It’s called mal/misfeasance but without a £100k to cover costs there’s simply no remedy.

      A subsequent Information Tribunal in the UK then ruled that the public authorities weren’t legally required ‘to hold’ the records. Records that I produced and still have. They, the Council and NHS, simply said that I never existed. BASW refused representation.

      Just saying is all. It’s hard not to take those things personally but they’re structural and supported politically and irrespective of who’s in Office.

      Take care of yourself and thank you for promoting my reaction.

    • Tammy February 4, 2023 at 7:55 pm #

      You’re absolutely right! I was told to falsify my court statement by a team manager who didn’t tell me when meetings were being held because I found in mother’s favour through my enquiries and gathering of information.
      I left social work because of the extreme bullying by inexperience managers who are not interested in children’s welfare. The reason for staff shortages has nothing to do with agency staff, the churn is caused by the hostile working environment why staff are forced to leave.

    • MaxP February 5, 2023 at 12:23 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear of your experience. Unfortunately bullying is all too common in social work, and possibly as a result of staff retention, management typically turn a blind eye which results in bullying being the culture within the team.
      With these additional restrictions – why would anyone choose to come into social work?

  13. Martine Kember-Wagner February 3, 2023 at 3:17 pm #

    If they do this they will loose 1000s of locum workers around the country. I for one will never go permanent again, I prefer choosing where I work and avoid all the rubbish office politics.

    • Chris February 6, 2023 at 2:55 pm #

      You do know you can make those same choices as a permanent member of staff right?

  14. Tom February 3, 2023 at 3:53 pm #

    Yes it is going to be counter productive in many ways…hust take one of the proposals i.e 6 weeks notice period which gives some sort of job security for locums…Permanant workers have job security which curreently locums do not enjoy. it could mean that there will be renewed interests in becoming locums.

  15. Julie Mellor February 3, 2023 at 4:42 pm #

    If Local Authorities had better terms and conditions, hybrid working patterns, more annual leave, better supervision and training and a great ethos where the child comes first they should be able to recruit permanent staff

  16. Polly Baynes February 3, 2023 at 5:13 pm #

    They should cap the agency fees rather than the workers’ pay! As an agency member of staff, you do not receive sick pay or pension contributions and so the equivalent wage requires a higher hourly rate.

  17. Bob February 3, 2023 at 6:28 pm #

    Ha ha ha good luck with that!

  18. Michelle February 3, 2023 at 6:46 pm #

    Another reason to not do the job I wouldn’t work permanently in child protection – no work life balance and the profession is treated with disregard. If they paid decent money in the first place, had capped case loads and didn’t expect you to work all hours at the expense of our own families then maybe it wouldn’t be an issue. Taking away freedom of choice maybe they should ban agency and bank staff as well in the nhs – can’t imagine what that costs and why not go further and cap barristers and lawyers with the fees they charge and tell them who they can and cannot work for!

  19. Social Worker February 3, 2023 at 6:50 pm #

    Interesting to see how inadequate rural local authorities will staff their services.

  20. Lindy-Lou February 3, 2023 at 6:52 pm #

    The true issues which are “destabilising the workforce” are high caseloads, severe lack of a decent pay structure, reflective of the high demands of the role, and lack of support. I have worked as a Social Worker and latterly a Team Manager in front line children’s services for many years, mostly as a permanent worker. Now, as an Agency worker, I have the flexibility of being able to chose the roles I take on, and I commit to those as much as when I was permanent. These “national rules” are just a conduit for policing the profession and restricting choice in a workforce which is already severely compromised and I agree with Johnathan Wadsworth that this will only make things worse. I will be leaving the profession if these sanctions are put in place. Along with many others I suspect.

  21. Beth February 4, 2023 at 12:14 am #

    It won’t work!
    Social work has suffered probably the most in terms of professional reputation and damage to pay/conditions over a number of years . It’s probably The most stressful profession and the most vilified.
    Until the issues causing the shortages are tacked recruitment & retention issues will remain. It will get worse as agency leave the profession…

  22. Roryboy February 4, 2023 at 8:05 am #

    Proposed agency staff rules… a national price cap what Local Authorities may pay per hour for locums

    This proposed RULE will impact on the individual independent Social Worker… I wonder whether the

    Very Goverment which espouses the benefits of a free market in health care will introduce national price caps on placement providers. The majority of children’s placement providers are owned by multi millionaires’ whose wealth has increased since the move from local authority placement, foster care, and adoption agencies to the now private sector providers.

  23. Abdul February 4, 2023 at 12:03 pm #

    This move was actually inevitable in my view, as what is really is about is Central Government trying to save even more money, at the expense of agency social workers. They will expect the same if not more output, but agency workers will be getting paid less, and of course there is no overtime for all the extra work, and this will also be at the expense of the workers physical and mental health. I have been a statutory child protection front-line social worker for 25 years now, having started practice in 1998. I knew this would happen, and I was working around 20 extra hours on evenings and weekends (for no pay or TOIL) to sustain an unreasonable caseload of 33 children in an R&A Service in London. I once had 3 Initial CP Conferences in one week, and was working all hours (past midnight, despite starting at 9am), and with no support or recognition from my manager, and so after 12 months of hell in that role (and almost having a break down), I took time out and moved into a less taxiing role. I was fortunate to get the current agency role, but it is time limited, and I have decided to leave social work completely, as I value my physical and mental health – that is worth more, than a job. I realised a long time ago, as the system won’t change, I need to change, and do what is right for me.

  24. Martin February 4, 2023 at 12:33 pm #

    I left social work after my ASYE and as a result of my experience, swore I would never go back. 8 months later, I have taken the plunge again,in a different team and different LA but this time, through an agency. I am embarrassed by my pay relative to the permanent staff, especially with so little experience, but after my previous experience, I needed to know that, should it not work out, I don’t have a miserable 3-month notice period to work. Without this flexibility, I would never have considered returning to children’s social work..

    Maybe instead of bringing agency pay down to current permanent pay levels, why not consider increasing permanent pay to compensate for the stress and long hours while at the same time bringing agency rates down to reduce the difference between them? This way, the LA rewards the permanent staff, but also recognises the option of flexibility open to agency workers.

  25. Alec Fraher February 4, 2023 at 4:24 pm #

    And not one mention of IR35? Strange.

    The actual real rates of renumeration between Angency and incumbent staff over-time are about equal, if not tipped to be more expensive for permanence. This is a known and accepted position. Or it was last I reviewed it with s114 Officers.

    The fully absorbed cost of a fte includes a whole suit of sunkcosts some of which like, an element for training and pension contributions are charged for in the Agency prices/fees. This is not passed to the individual. And it’s like 40% if not higher than their take home.

    Crucially travel, equipment,say, a desk or PC or headed paper and the participation in meetings and workplace gatherings, like lunch or coffee afterwork-about-work are where the IR35 issue’s have been fudged and the formally required administration buried or ignored.

    The procurement of specialist professional services, which will have a designated procure code or CPV within Part B Cat 25, is also a very detailed and procure procedure specific function. The delegated authority for which is tightly governed, or should be but isn’t.

    The use of Agencies as recruitment and selection providers is an entirely different procedurally dependent area of activity different to appointments arising from a need to demonstrate different approaches both theoretical and practical, and carry a designated consulting function, sometimes as part of the satisfaction of a duty and/or as an aid to advise.

    Most recruitment agencies haven’t got a clue about the values or concepts used in social work. It is a cost-volume contracting so why should they?

    The two area’s have been confused and to the detriment of both.

    Essentially, the head-line and bottom-line figures about pay are similarly confused.

    One is an invoice for services and the other isn’t.

    Work in partnership arrangements, say, with the police, NHS, probation like the, then, crime reduction partnership or youth offenders team, makes Agency working attractive to many practitioners wanting greater autonomy to actually do the work they trained for ratherthan get mired in the politically motivated and inherent infighting partnership working cultivated.

    For these workers terms such as, Umbrella and Composite are a couple of the administrative arrangements one must sign up; and which the Agency pushes because they’re outside the usual tax and NI coverage as an employee; the financial gains for the Agency promote this over other arrangements.

    The administrative arrangements of which are largely hidden.

    Council’s don’t want the long term financial burdens unless they are fully financially viable. SOLACE have been saying this publicly since May 18th 2007 when, at a summit meeting with senior procurement managers, they said ‘ health and social care has more in common with the construction industry than is healthy and thought possible.

    Much of the new spend in social welfare during the noughties wasn’t structured to be transferred from central government to local government. This was by design not error. The spend was engineered and to create market stimulation where once the Council was the sole provider.

    The appointments of staff, not just social workers, if beyond the life-span of a specific Government policy became untenable. Of course, they could have isued temporality contracts to some and not others. Unthinkable right? Agency recruitment was seen and felt tobe a middle way.

    Council’s, and I have reviewed this area of work for a significant numbers, aren’t stupid. Far from it. Most LA’s, when it suits them, demonstrate a remarkable requisite variety and agility. The management of complex adaptive systems is their bread and butter.

    Social Workers work within the boundaries of usually permissive legislation. Indeed, all Council’s SO’s have been amended to reflect the uncertainty inherent in our work and give mandated respect for our considered and balanced approach to good judgement in decision making.

    A Council’s constitutionally agreeded SO’s, and especially in procurement, are though higjly prescriptive whereas much of Social Work legislation is highly permissive. The two systems aren’t at odds; their interactions are though poorly understood often creating system collapse impacting to negate each other, and hurting people when they do.

    The MacAlister Review has nothing to say about the real world requirements of doing-the-job

    A new epistemological dependence on defunct managerial sense-making arising from the interplay between detailed and dynamic complexity will be divorced from the recipients physical world.

    It is more likely to increase oppressive practice than act as a balancing feedback against it. This is big business though.

    As with all computational-model-simulations, which create their own ontic-quales (false yet data rich pictures), the informational architectural design is based on the avoidance of truth telling.

    At the BASW 2007 AGM, social worker’s by a show of hands, passed a vote of no-confidence in the use of AI generated risk determinations. Agency staff were used as guinea pigs to test proof of concept, most unknowingly.

  26. DedicatedLocum February 4, 2023 at 11:37 pm #

    Hope they start with decreasing or capping the income of Directors of CS…If you have been qualified for over 10 years you will have observed the same old tactics applied to Locums and then the same predictable chaos… Funny how its usually after an Ofsted visit and rating…. Solution; invest in Social Work education and retention; ps. SWs have been on the UK shortage list for over 20 years….

  27. Nullnix February 5, 2023 at 7:05 am #

    ChatGPT .. was this you?

  28. Julie February 5, 2023 at 8:01 am #

    What a ridiculous proposal! I as I should imagine many will be out if this happens. Love to know who they propose who will be there to keep these departments running if this happens.

  29. Sandra February 5, 2023 at 9:48 am #

    Perhaps paying permanent staff a wage that reflects their professional skills and knowledge may be a better plan than one which will without doubt drive people out of the profession.

    In addition to tackling bullying cultures and nepotism, cultures which inherently encourage a tendency to promote to the highest levels those least equipped to lead or plan, an increase in income for permanent staff would be how to attract agency workers back into permanent roles and retain permanent staff. In turn this would eventually reduce case loads and provide a better service to the communities we serve.

    • Truth Listener February 6, 2023 at 12:37 am #


  30. Louise February 5, 2023 at 3:53 pm #

    Alot of Social Workers will leave the profession. I certainly will. The cost of living crisis has forced me to go agency in order to be able to survive. This government want us all to suffer instead of adequately funding services and paying permanent staff a fair wage.
    Prepare for a mass exodus!

    • Truth Listener February 6, 2023 at 12:36 am #


    • Alex February 6, 2023 at 3:00 pm #

      I’m in exactly the same position. I needed to go agency to afford to survive. Only today had a £700.00 bill following car service. Whilst still a big struggle, I simply wouldn’t have been able to pay this whilst earning permanent salary. If I were to go permanent again I would feel so resentful at working so many hours extra for little reward. At least with agency I feel that I’m getting paid closer to what I think the job should be paid.

      I struggle to consider what role I will go into if these measures come in, but I am pretty sure there is something out there for much less stress and pay. Any suggestions anybody?

  31. Oyela February 5, 2023 at 4:12 pm #

    The govt should investigate the reasons why there is a massive retention problem other than low pay and caseloads. Could management of staff, lack of empathy from supervisors contribute to high numbers going for agencies? Every year, there is high numbers of social workers graduating, but not all secure a job. For most newly qualified, It is because the supervisors are so nasty that the only goal is to fail a newly qualified social worker in their ASYE program. This only happens if you are BEM group. ASYE is supposed to be a time for learning, especially if the newly qualified social worker has not put anybody at risk. But for most supervisors, It is purely about terminating someone’s career without remorse! And if you try to complain, they all back one another no matter how wrong the organisation is. These could be some of the reasons that social workers join the agency. Restructuring of the LA’s were everyone is treated fairly. But as it stands, most of the social workers behaviour is above the law. They do not provide a welcoming environment for New starters in the organisation. So long as they have been in the organisation for a certain number of years, they become immovable no matter how toxic or negative their behaviour impacts on new people including newly qualified staff. For ASYE’s, your completion and passing is entirely at the mercy of your senior social worker. If they are good hearted, you will pass. If they dislike you, you will surely fail. That way, the only option is agency work. .

    • Truth Listener February 6, 2023 at 12:35 am #


  32. Nicola February 5, 2023 at 8:50 pm #

    What a massive mistake if they enforce these steps. The agency workers work massive amount of overtime unpaid and never take sickness or leave. They hold teams together. I have only ever had 3 agency posts in the last 7 years of being an agency worker! The problem with this industry so to speak, is lack of funding, lack of services, in-house bullying, ‘trouble shooters’ at a premium cost, high caseloads and no support. I will never return to being staff and I will leave the profession in a heartbeat.

  33. Robert Patterson February 6, 2023 at 8:02 am #

    1. I have worked in children’s departments with 90% agency because who wants to join an inadequate LA.
    2. Agency staff under umbrella companies get hammered for tax, without the perm benefits. Same tax as perm staff, we even pay holiday pay ( why?- I can never take a holiday as agency). The demise of outside IR35,killed agency work. This is the gov trying to recoup tax with no agency or project worked outside of IR35
    3. I agree NQSW should never be agency workers. They need a grounding in practice before being parachuted into inadequate services.
    4. I have thought about leaving agency as I get older as the terms & conditions LA’s offer are good if you want to go off sick for huge amounts of time, and not be challenged by HR & and if you do you can walk away with a massive settlement. Whilst commercial social care businesses pay more, but don’t pay sick pay and have a less attrition and less sickness – why? I direct to you point one. Motivation, mission and direction. Chaos in LA’s can breed innovation. But they prefer “ order “- don’t step out of the mind set laid down by generations of bad management. Agency staff bring innovation and dynamism – not all. I have met some atrocious agency staff. There have been times when I was told as a very senior agency member of staff we need “plans” not “actions”- says it all really.

  34. Felix February 6, 2023 at 9:41 am #

    As locum SW in children teams, this is disappointing and disheartening. SWs are undervalued and underpaid, regardless of whether they are locum or permanent. I will definitely leave the profession. I have actually started looking at other options.

  35. Bob February 6, 2023 at 10:06 am #

    With all the strikes happening social workers need to join this too. We will only work our 37 hours contracted for. System will crumble in a week

  36. Ruth Cartwright February 6, 2023 at 12:48 pm #

    The problem is that permanent work does not give good pay, good working conditions and flexibility with a decent work-life balance. The answer is not to penalise those who still seek to use their SW skills while protecting themselves from some of the abuses by going agency, but to improve pay and working conditions. The Govt and employers do not wish to address this issue.

  37. Anna February 6, 2023 at 2:01 pm #

    Yes I agree again this government blames workers . Social workers should strike but for some reason we do not

  38. Chris February 6, 2023 at 2:52 pm #

    This will certainly lead to some social workers leaving the profession, but I would bet far more would move back into permanent roles.

    I have lots of friends who are agency, the vast majority of them say they have just become too addicted to the pay to move back to permanent roles. Who could blame them, with lots of them earning £40 – £50 an hour – although I don’t know how any social worker could genuinely tell themselves that level of pay is truly ethical.

    It also allows private recruitment agencies to make huge profits from LA’s and the tax payer.

    It feels that its been the boom in managed teams that has really driven agency pay as high as it is, hopefully these measures will stop the slow privatisation of the sector.

    • Robert Patterson February 8, 2023 at 5:42 pm #

      How can that kind of money not be ethical – of course it can. Jealousy is a terrible thing. Why should SW earn the same as someone in Starbucks or Waitrose.

  39. Chris Sterry February 6, 2023 at 5:38 pm #

    Another Government nail is the social care coffin, let’s be clear this government does not care about anyone except themselves.

    All of social care needs much more funding, which this government and all preceding governments have failed to do.

    This coupled with the austerity cuts on Local Authorities, (LAs) since 2010 will only exacerbate the problems. The government needs to see all the problems and provide all LAs the funds needed to ensure social care can survive and then be fully sustainable.

    The way this government is going there will be no social workers and social care workers so social care will fail to exist, very quickly followed by the NHS.

    But that won’t affect the Government as their pay increases will continue to come forth as they always do and then they will pay privately for any care they need to receive, while all others will have no social care or NHS to rely on.

  40. Francis February 6, 2023 at 6:35 pm #

    I pay for my own DBS check.
    I pay for my own registration fees.
    I don’t get any pension contributions from my employer.
    I don’t get paid holiday.
    I don’t get paid sick leave.

    It’s never been about the money – I don’t want to work 70 hours a week. I want to enjoy good mental and physical health. That’s why I chose to leave the LA, and nothing on this earth would tempt me to go back.

  41. Socialwork7 February 6, 2023 at 9:37 pm #

    Just sounds like an another bad way to underpay social workers and loose more from the profession. Good work in not fixing the real issue here DFE

    • Louise February 8, 2023 at 3:01 pm #

      Locum social workers won’t make £42 an hour in any other profession – so if they leave, they might as well go perm. As they will be making a lot less money doing anything else.

      • James February 14, 2023 at 2:47 pm #

        Front line Social work is a very difficult job. I can absolutely guarantee that I’ll leave the profession after 17 years if these proposals go through. Why are local authorities paying £42-48 per hour. It’s because they have to, otherwise people won’t do the job. People won’t accept their pay dropping by two thirds to do the same job. They’ll leave and do something else.

      • Anthonia February 16, 2023 at 7:09 pm #

        That may be so. I am permanent staff, however if I was a locum, I would just leave the profession

  42. Paul February 6, 2023 at 11:53 pm #

    I think they need to raise the pay rates of substantive staff to that of agency staff. But of course that will not happen.

  43. Helena February 7, 2023 at 11:44 am #

    Once again social workers are being penalised for the job we do. Is this going to be filtered to other public sectors or just us.

    Why does the government not look at the real problem of why many choose to leave a permanent role for agency.

    When the government fix the real issues such as high case loads, being bullied by managers, no possibilities of career progression, burnout, high stress level, poor mental health and unsupportive managers, they may find that social workers may indeed stay as permanent.

    This bullish attitude will only cause more social workers to leave the profession.

  44. Anon February 7, 2023 at 9:15 pm #

    The amount of comments on this speaks volumes. I am agency, ive been perm too. I started out years ago we had much better benefits to being perm, they are gone now and never coming back. Id sooner leave and seek a new career than go perm because we are a complete after thought and have been for years. When sw are paid for the hours they actually work and they are rewarded for personal car use on a job that requires you to use a car (and rewards nothing) and you get mileage and pay that meets the cost of living increase then maybe people will consider perm. The whole culture needs to change in sw but not just in sw, outside of sw within the courts system with professionals and within the media… we are not robots, we are human and we have feelings and families of our own and consideration of this is poor. We care about our jobs but morale is low and there is no benefit to being a sw, even the pay as agency staff is not worth the stress… people are leaving this career in search of new options and getting rid of agency will inflame this. Our profession is already at crisis point.

  45. Dave February 7, 2023 at 9:23 pm #

    As an agency social worker, I’ll simply leave the profession. It’s not worth the hassle.

  46. Jamie February 8, 2023 at 1:34 am #

    I agree that this policy is not going to solve the overall problem of retention in the social work profession. I also agree that social workers would never need to actually strike, as they would only need to work to rule, by stop working overtime and only the hours they are paid for. The whole system would collapse very quickly.

    What should also be acknowledged alongside all of this is that there are agency workers in London being paid more than the Director of the Children’s Services department where they work. This is also a completely unacceptable cost out of public money but also unsustainable. It is ultimately taking away from the vulnerable children and families we are meant to advocate and support.

    I’m in favour of capping agency pay as long as there is also a consideration of the broader set of pay and conditions also becoming commensurate with a full time employee.

  47. Anonymous February 8, 2023 at 6:55 pm #

    Planning to leave this profession for good.

  48. Roryboy February 8, 2023 at 8:52 pm #

    Interesting discussion… Local Authority contract involves micro management, lack of professional status and independence.

  49. MRM February 9, 2023 at 10:59 am #

    You can easily identify just another Director is trying to drive the policy, yet the Gov’t is stalling and delaying implementation because it knows deep down it will worsen the crisis of staff shortages.

    It is a money saving scheme without any real thought to the consequences. Its not imagined the idea that Social Workers are highly skilled professionals who can easily change careers and move into professional roles that have better pay, working conditions and opportunities. Its an employees haven out there.Thus, don’t get trapped in the profession there is loads you can do. Avoid being beholden to the employers, stick together and motivate your Unions to challenge pay and conditions and the rife bullying environment we all work in.

    I imagine many will leave the profession and the crisis will worsen because many have already left, few are entering the profession, hundreds are on sick leave and frankly, if it was not for agency workers children’s services would have collapsed.

  50. Roryboy February 10, 2023 at 2:45 am #

    £42 per hour … being paid this hourly rate equates to correction work apposed to case management/ social work. Correcting the poor practice brought about because of poorly managed systems with in local authorities

    My experience of this hourly rate involved a working week of 50 plus hours to effect change for children and their families, Only 37 hours are paid for.

  51. Kazza February 14, 2023 at 9:07 am #

    I have been both locum and permanent as a CP Chair the main benefit of the latter is stability and peace of mind in regards to sickness, pension, employment protection (especially as I have got older). The hours are way beyond I am contracted for this there is no TOIL given. Despite this I like being permanent but to take away the choice in a profession is a gross mistake (apart from AYSE). Locuming gives you flexibility experience how different local authorities work and there can be great development within that. Recruitment is the problem in LA. Sw are over loaded and there is an expectation that you work over your hours with no reward ? this has become so acceptable to middle and senior managers. I see locum and permanent SW working equally as hard with dedication and care to the role.
    This profession is always undervalued and undermined as the media and government perpetuate the narrative that SW are punative and uncaring and that is why we will never get public support. Locums play a vital role in social work … I wonder who is going to take up the slack when they leave in there droves should this recommendation be followed through?

  52. James February 14, 2023 at 2:40 pm #

    The day these proposals come in is the last day I work as a social worker.

  53. Tintin February 14, 2023 at 3:49 pm #

    I am an agency social worker and have been for some years. I work my socks off and fill service gaps. I do it as it suits my circumstances. I run the risk of not having a safety net if any ill-health and lack of a decent pension, but that is my person choice.

    There are certainly valid criticisms of use of locums. Churn and variable quality to name a few. The thing that gets me is that my agency take a weekly fee which is up to a third of what my weekly pay is! Clearly, this is not a good use of public money, where profit (from my labour) is making someone very rich. This ‘profit’ would be better spent on kids.

    The question being asked is the wrong one. Rather than how can the Gov make locums get paid the same as perms, it should be why are perms leaving and choosing to go agency. Yes the Gov has to curtail too many locums in the work force, and the agencies profiting, but surely the solution is making permanent employment far more attractive (good training doesn’t cut it sorry).

    – A fair wage (starting at £50K)
    – 37 hours a week and overtime pay for anything over this.
    – Every three years a 1-3 months paid sabbatical to avoid burnout.

    The retention issue is only going to get more acute as experienced social workers exit, and more newly qualified get burnt out in the ‘accepted’ meat-grinder of the profession.

    Instead of looking at the symptoms, look at the disease.

  54. Sean February 14, 2023 at 3:53 pm #

    Go ahead, see what happens! Local authorities up and down the country have already tried this many times before. They get rid of their locums in favour of employing permanent staff, their performance then drops like a stone and they are back to urgently recruiting locums again within 6 – 8 weeks.

  55. Tintin February 15, 2023 at 12:16 am #

    You still have a voice -deadline for the consultation is 11th May 2023

    The fact that social workers have not gone on strike for better pay and conditions, just goes to show what a ground down, isolated and despairing workforce it presently is. It’s really grim and the Gov has to ask why us locums are so desperately needed by LAs.

    The argument that the driver for permanent staff leaving is because they know what their agency colleagues earn is a false premise. Rather it’s has much to do with being under valued, under paid, working crazy and unsocial hours, a culture of blame, and being treated as a commodity rather than an asset.

    This is alongside cost of living crisis, poverty and working with the most marginalised people in society and managing significant risk; in an environment where there are no services. It’s a lonely exhausting grind, and so without recognition though good pay and conditions, people simply vote with their feet.

  56. Berni February 15, 2023 at 3:19 pm #

    I have done both perm and agency roles as a choice to get more experience and yes I love the freedom to close down my cases and say adios and thanks.

    Did I go into SW to make pots of money- no I did not.
    Did I think it would be tough, working more hours than paid for- yes but the experience of doing the job is something else and there are lots of positives to doing both roles.

    Its the same story everywhere, staff burn out, too much work and an increasing bureaucratic management style approach to SW .

    The DFE can go ahead with its proposals but it wont work. I used to work my behind off and took my role seriously just as all colleagues do with limited exceptions. By the time I had paid both the employee and employer NI because of IR35 and paid tax I was often only marginally paid more.

    I do think in SW with children and families you need continuity and what’s wrong with giving people fixed term contracts as an alternative so you know people are going to be around for long enough.

    The wheel is broke but you know I love my job and the people I work with and for and if I have to slug it out at at times that is what I will do as it has always been my expectation. Perhaps we all have a shelf life of ten to twenty years due to the job but this may well get shorter.

  57. TTB February 15, 2023 at 3:53 pm #

    Can I make a comment!
    I have been both a permanent member of staff and an agency member of staff.
    I choose to be an agency worker so I can support my family, I would not be in that position as a permanent member of staff at the present time.
    I don’t get paid holidays, sickness, a pension or health care over.

    If Councils paid more for experienced staff, I would not be an agency worker!

  58. KJB February 15, 2023 at 10:59 pm #

    After 18 years as a social worker, I have moved to a new area and cannot find employment with the local authorities because I am unable to work full time. I’ve offered 30 hours, but keep being rejected. Their answer? Go join an agency.
    This is doing nothing to help retention, nothing for my good will and I’m at the point of applying to the supermarkets, I need to work. Where is the value for experienced workers? I would happily work for a LA but they have no flexibility. They have brought this shortage on themselves.

  59. Mark B February 16, 2023 at 8:16 am #

    1) Permanent social workers pay is too low for the stress of the role and the quantity of cases workers are required to carry. Eileen Munro suggested low case loads brought about effective change to familyies and a limit of 15 was proposed. I know i would work around 25 to 30 cases and have done so for years. All of these cases are complex. This results in burn out.

    2) there is no paid overtime, (whether agency or permanent) and time off in lieu is an absolute myth. I would regularly work 10 to 20 hours over contract, and even so, work would still be outstanding. I would then be criticised for not completing tasks on time etc.

    3) IR 35 was brought in to reduce council costs in the first place, and now the meddling government are screwing down any hope of social workers wanting to get an adequate pay rate. There will be a mass exodus of staff.

    4) essential car user rates were scrapped. How can a social worker, who is an essential car user be classed as a casual car user. This is just eroding social workers capacity to function in the front line effectively.

    5) where is the incentive for social workers to want to stay at failing authorities or to be willing to go the extra mile? This is a prerequisite now and goodwill is just extorted from every social worker.

  60. Suzy February 19, 2023 at 12:28 am #

    I have worked in several local authorities as an agency worker and I would be leaving the profession if the proposals come into force ,after 14 years of dedicated service . The demands are increasing, I rarely do less than 50 hours a week, I’ve come across far too many bullies in my time to ever contemplate taking a permanent position and complaining gets you a bad reputation. I have picked up many many cases over the years where the previous social workers have made their excuses and left if they are agency, or gone on sick if permanent and quite frankly some of the time I totally understand why. I can remember being handed 28 cases and working 60 hours a week for the first 6 weeks, during that time I had to make clear if you try to bully me I’m gone too. Sadly there is a significant problem with bullying and it’s horrendous to witness. I actually despair for the future of our profession we are just expected to put up and shut up. We actually trained hard for this role which has become a form of self harm.

  61. Ems February 20, 2023 at 1:55 pm #

    This proposal is another clear example of oppression of Locum social workers, the government is overlooking the main problems which is to do with being overworked and underpaid in a quite stressful job, and rather looking to penalize the already stressed and hard working Locum social workforce. There will certainly be a mass exodus of experienced social workers, placing families in a precarious situation.

    This will not attract people to train as social workers knowing that there will be no flexibility of how one wants to work.

    Do not forget forcing people to work as per the unacceptable proposals will mean staff going off on long sickness than they are doing now. The proposal needs to be thoroughly thought through.

  62. JA February 23, 2023 at 1:52 pm #

    I don’t think this will work, most SWs will leave the profession or move to other nations

  63. Anonymous Osa February 23, 2023 at 2:29 pm #

    I’ve worked as a professional for 19 years. I have held both permanent and agency positions. Racism is incredibly subdued in social work field. They achieve this by bullying you and being more critical of your work, denied you of progressing your career. Because I challenged a colleague’s practise, that was a friend to the AD, the rest of the team turned against me. I was forced to leave from my previous Perm by an Assistant Director. I chose to work as an agency, and doing so was a means of escaping that culture that was supposed to value equality and uniformity. I’m now thinking of quitting my job as a professional altogether. I’ve put in 10 times more work than some of my White colleagues over the course of my career. I recently had an inexperienced SM who had no idea what her role as a SM entails, lack of the KNOWLEDGE BASE and the experience of the role. Unfortunately, some of us Black people have been exposed to this ordeal as a permanent, which is sad. This is my own experience.

  64. Munyaradzi Lawson February 23, 2023 at 4:24 pm #

    Mass exodus ahead…
    Better pay more to SWs and get reduced caseload

  65. Pauline O'Reggio February 23, 2023 at 6:05 pm #

    It is not agency social workers who are the problem. Agency social workers are just as committed to offering a professional and safe service. Agency social workers are treated unfairly.

    Agency social workers are given cases where the decision-making is questionable, cases are given without any thought whether the caseload is manageable so long has someone’s name is attached to the caseload. These are based on my experience. Some managers do not have child protection experience to lead a team of mostly newly qualified social workers because experience workers have left the workforce.

    Social workers’ views are not listened to. One of the requirements of social work values is to question decision-making, and for social workers to be confident in their practice. What is evident is managers do not see this as a strength and are likely to see you sidelined.

    Agency social workers often have to bring direction to cases they are given, you are given cases, permanent workers do not want to manage, sometimes because some families can be abusive and difficult to support. What is also not considered in the treatment of agency workers.

    No commitment is given to agency workers, it is no wonder agency workers leave an environment where they are not supported, not made to feel a part of a team, told to purchase their working equipment afforded to others. It is the managers who should be putting the agency workers’ skills and knowledge to their advantage, however, this does not happen when you are given a caseload and expected to manage deadlines that are not realistic. For the social worker above I understand your frustration in my experience and view it as not about what skills, commitment or the knowledge you bring to the service but whom you know.

    I have been a practicing child protection social worker for over 43 years despite working hard to progress this has not happened for me. I tell myself now I will be the best social worker I can be. Do not give up if this is the profession you want.Those who are younger will see your determination to practice in your chosen career.

    In my view, social work has no direction, bullying does take place, some professionals in my experience have questionable views which are not challenged.What I have observed is each organisation appear to have different cultural norms.In my view vulnerable children, families and those in the workforce who are the minority will remain invisible.They will not receive the progression/service.
    My views are based on my observation and experience.

    Agency social work is very difficult because there are so many I know to just to.In my view agency workers and individual skills, knowledge are not being used.Also in my view, some organizations almost have an elitist attitude which leaves them to missing out on valuable skills, and experience.

    The service users we support come from all cultures, ethnicity, black, white, however it is evident this is not reflected in the areas they should be perhaps the whole system needs looking into?. again all my views are based on my own experience and which I can evidence.To anyone who wants to enter the profession do not give up.

    You may think you have nothing to offer, but you do you just can not see it yet there will be some vulnerable child out there who identifies with you and some day want to support others.

  66. Pauline O'Reggio February 23, 2023 at 9:57 pm #

    Paragraph 8 of the above should read.Agency social workers work hard you work longer hours which is not recognized nor do you get paid for it. Attitudes towards agency workers can be disrespectful.You enter an unknown working environment where you are treated with little acknowledgment of the work or hours you have put into the role. Agency social workers usually have to unpick some cases where there has been little or no direction.

    Anyone who works has an agency social worker is walking into an unknown working culture, were by unrealistic expectation and time scales can be expected of you.For example, you are expected to understand every case you are allocated and start working on the cases within hours of allocation. Cases are normally high risk coupled with an expectation of ensuring children are seen regardless of whether this is achievable.

    I find it difficult to understand why social work is so difficult and do not receive any recognition for the difficult role we carry out. All social workers work hard and carry a great deal of responsibility.

    My comments are based on my own experience.

  67. C February 23, 2023 at 11:05 pm #

    It has been evident for many years that the use of selective Consultants are said to be paid between £500/£1000 a day to troubleshoot and rectify the issues within local authorities, but to no avail, given, 3-6 month post the alleged turn around for the local authorities, they are found to allegedly not be able to sustain the alleged changes. The question is, did these changes ever happen in reality, it would appear not.

    Yet each one of these consultants appear to have made no less than £10.000 per month for a minimum of 12 months and multiply that by 2 and that would be a minimum total of £240.000 for 2 years and that’s for 1 consultant. Yet there’s a debate about agency Social worker’s pay.

    The debate in my humble opinion is once again targeted in the wrong area and clearly so, and again in my opinion this is because of the lack of regard for Social workers by Government, whether they’re agency or permanent and yet Social workers do not strike. They stay sincere to their ethics and professional standards to include that which Social work England depicts, in the best interest of their service users.

    They work passed their 37 hour week, for free to include weekends. They worked throughout the pandemic tirelessly and without any support or clapping for them and without PPR or mention from the Government, when the umbrella is said to be “Health and Social Care’ I recall the word Social Care stumbled out of our leaders mouth once.

    Agency Social workers pay 2 sets of National Insurance, IR35 tax, umbrella fees, and are not paid holiday pay at their usual hourly rate and are not paid sick pay at their hourly rate. They are highly grounded and knowledgeable in practice, legislation and application and arguably there are some that are not which is not dissimilar to some permanent staff and again this is the norm within most organisations, but they serve a purpose with organisations, as they say ‘It wouldn’t do for us all to be the same’

    In terms of the isms it is rife in local authorities. Freedom of speech is marginalised.

    The inquiries undertaken over the years were completely pointless in my opinion, give all recommendations more so than not, were not or have not to date been implemented.

    In sum in my humble opinion Government need to address their behaviour towards Social workers and start to respect what they do in the face of adversity, day in and day out and most of the time at great cost to their personal lives.

    Or is it that Government would like Social workers to commence the same behaviour as other professions, knowing that social workers should they behave in such ways, would not be in breech of their registration given all other registered professions have not suffered via striking for their rights to better pay and working conditions and should penalties be considered towards such action, it would clearly be classed as further disparity between professions serving the public.

    It’s apparently clear that there’s a better solution to the crisis instead of pitting permanent social workers against agency social workers and vice versa, whilst plans go ahead to privatise local authorities while the notion for this happening will be noted as and due to the state of the Local authorities. One could consider this to be premeditated under the guise of seeking a solution to the issues and crisis within local authorities in my humble opinion.

  68. M February 24, 2023 at 4:30 pm #

    I have been a social worker for over 13 years. Initially permanent, then as an agency worker for the past 7 years. I left permanent social work due to extreme bullying by a white service manager ( I am black). The service manager then took it upon himself to write me a very bad reference when I handed in my notice. I took the case to an Employment Tribunal for constructive dismissal. I was then bullied again and forced by the legal department to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Out of fear and pressure I agreed to sign the NDA and accepted a payment. (I was a litigant in person)

    Within another year, at another Local Authority, the same bullying and racist behaviours occurred by white senior managers. I used my knowledge and experience from the first incident and took the case to another Employment Tribunal. (litigant in person) I won my case and received a substantial payment.

    I have absolutely no intention of returning to a permanent social worker role given the hostile environment in some LA’s. Although I say this, even as an Agency Worker, I still face bullying and other unwarranted behaviours from managers however, it is knowing that I can hand in my 1 week’s notice and walk out plus, I feel confident to take on another ET case if pushed to do so.

    I just wanted to share my experience with you all to highlight the behaviours that is allowed to take place and everyone else including Directors, turn a blind eye and don’t do anything to put a stop to it.

  69. Pauline O'Reggio February 24, 2023 at 7:45 pm #

    Dear above, I understand where you are coming from. I understand why you had to take the measure you did. I also understand why so many who face the very real experiences you and most who have no career prospective do not say anything.

    But continue to put up with being sidelined, bullied and ignored by a career where we all have so much to offer and a career where we want to improve peoples lives regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and so on. Is this not what we are trained to do? People turn to agency work because they are aware they will not have the opportunity to earn past level one of the pay scale.

    Social Work is a very important role, not only to protect vulnerable children and families but to also show the younger generation.Working hard,being true to who you are ,expecting to be treated with respect and dignity is something we all have a right to regardless of who you are.

    • M February 26, 2023 at 9:50 pm #

      Dear Pauline, thank you for your comments. I agree with you 100%

  70. Pauline O'Reggio February 27, 2023 at 11:27 am #

    I wish you all the best in your career I know social work is a difficult and demanding role, both physically and emotionally but a much needed one. As a younger child whom you could have classed has vulnerable I would have appreciated your resilience and the fact that you are standing up for that vulnerable child/family /others in the workforce.You appear to understand the deeper reasons behind this issue and the implications for so many.This more so includes the people whom we are here to protect. Should the issue not be able HOW managers utilize what agency workers bring to the service?

    • M February 27, 2023 at 10:39 pm #

      Thank you again, and for drilling down to the core values that make us do what we are trained to do. Agency social workers play a vital role to ensure front line roles are staffed and vulnerable children are seen. In the last 2 years, I have noticed a huge increase in agency social work managers in various teams and it is likely that this trend will continue. I guess managers are feeling the pressure too and taking action by moving away from permanent roles. I am curious to see how this one plays out.

  71. Pauline O February 28, 2023 at 1:38 pm #

    To those in positions off power and possibly up and coming Social Work practitioners.When a child or a parent or grandparent whom you may have worked with 10/15 years age comes up to you remembers ,your name and tells you “I remember you helped me “.Or when a grandmother also remembered your name and is proud to tell you how well her grandchildren are doing in their work and personal life as a social worker you know you have done something to shape the next generation.

    It upsets me to witness the road social work is going. Social workers have a huge impact on vulnerable children and families. So why are social workers treated so unfairly emotionally , financially and publicly?.No one who goes into the profession to have an easy time.Social Workers can shape the next generation.The above is proof of this.