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Social workers get 68% pay rise to make life in Birmingham more attractive

Social workers get 68% pay rise to make life in Birmingham more attractive

🕔22.Oct 2013

Birmingham City Council is to award social workers an immediate pay rise of up to 68 per cent in an attempt to attract staff to its failing children’s services department.

The temporary increase has been approved by the cabinet and is designed to make it easier to fill vacant posts.

Under the terms of the deal, the hourly rate for social workers with two years’ experience will go up from £25.54 to £41.23. The rate for newly qualified professionals will rise from £22.36 to £31.16.

The pay for team managers is to increase from £40.37 an hour to £53.81. Senior practitioner’s pay will increase from £36.34 an hour to £45.63.

The salary increases range from 33 per cent for team managers to 68 per cent for social workers with two years’ experience and will cost the council £1 million over two years.

The new rates are for agency staff, who the council relies on because it cannot recruit sufficient numbers of in-house social workers. Birmingham already employs 66 agency social workers, but needs to find an additional 42 to fill all vacant places.

After struggling under government ‘special measures’ since 2009 the children’s social care department – branded inadequate by Ofsted – is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and keep social workers.

The shortage of qualified front-line professionals is pushing up caseloads and making it even more difficult for Birmingham to meet performance targets. Council leaders have admitted that not all vulnerable children in the city can be considered safe.

Pressure to improve increased last week after Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw described children’s social services in Birmingham “a disgrace”. He said social problems in the city were now so bad that it compared unfavourably with communist Cuba and parts of Eastern Europe.

A number of child deaths in the past decade, most recently that of two-year-old Keanu Williams, led Sir Michael to accuse Birmingham of the “worst failings in child protection seen in the country”.

Peter Hay, Birmingham’s acting strategic director for children, young people and families, has admitted that the council does not have enough “good” social workers and warned of a “serious shortage of qualified and experienced” staff.

Mr Hay added: “Whilst the use of agency workers in this role is no substitute for recruiting permanent staff, the levels of vacancies is such that the directorate is unable to manage caseloads or create an environment that encourages potential employees to join the council.

“The market for these staff is competitive as demand is high from councils who all want to sustain or improve performance. This has created an upward pressure in agency staff rates for qualified social workers. The net result is that agency workers whose skills are in short supply are not being attracted to Birmingham.”

The council’s previous attempts to encourage social workers to come to Birmingham have included recruitment campaigns abroad and “golden hello” cash payments when starting employment.

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