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Children’s Services sorting staffing issues

Created on 15/05/2019 @ 09:29
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Children’s Services chiefs in Powys say they are getting to grips with staffing issues.

One of the major issues identified in two critical reports by by Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), is the amount of expensive agency staff being employed by Powys County Council (PCC).

This has seen funding spiral upwards to £24 million.

In this year’s budget £3 million to £7 million has been set aside “in case of pressures” in the service.

Recruitment teams have been at the Compass Jobs Fair for social workers in Birmingham as part of a recruitment drive that started earlier this year.

Health and Care Scrutiny Committee chairman, Cllr Gwilym Williams, said: “Retaining staff and getting more permanent staff comes up in every report. I’d like to re-emphasise it.”

Cllr Williams went on to ask whether social workers on the same grade were being paid more by other local authorities than Powys?

He added: “I want to see a report on that to see how much the difference is. That must be a reason why we’re not getting enough retained stuff and we’re using agency staff.

“After the AGM (annual general meeting) (Thursday, May 16) we will have to look at the cost of the service and know a bit more.”

Head of Children’s Services, Jan Coles, said: “We’re working really hard on our recruitment and almost on a weekly basis we’re transferring people who have been working for us with an agency, onto our permanent staff.

“It’s really working well and we’re chipping away at the numbers of agency staff. You will be pleased at the progress we are making.”

Ms Coles claimed that money is not a major motivation for social workers.

She said: “Social workers would tell you the important things are: doing a good job; Being supported by their manager; That they are valued in their work; That they are safe.”

MS Coles added: “We ask social workers to do really dangerous things. Go into situations in families where there has been violence, substance misuse or mental ill health.

“We ask them to go in to make an assessment if a child is safe in that environment.

“That’s an enormous task that we ask them to do.

Ms Coles, continued: “If things go wrong having made their best judgement, that we’re there for them, standing shoulder to shoulder and you (councillors) do that too.

“Yes, money is important, but in social work the other things are more important.”

Ms Coles added that work was already underway to analyse the issues.

Children’s Services portfolio holder, Cllr Rachel Powell, added: “Just to share some good news, on Friday (May10) we recruited for two permanent senior management positions in Children’s Services.”

A Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) report on Children’s Services published in January following an inspection of the department in October 2018, noted that it had “serious concerns” but there had been “significant improvements” since the damning report of October 2017.


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