Social workers are in such short supply in Cambridgeshire that the county council are using agency staff that cost double in wages – up to £78,000 a year.

Adrian Loades, Executive Director, Families and Adults.

Adrian Loades, Executive Director, Families and Adults. - Credit: Archant

Social workers are in such short supply in Cambridgeshire that the county council are using agency staff that cost double in wages – up to £78,000 a year.

A lack of full time salaried social workers means that in the 2014 financial year, Children, Families and Adults Services spent £3.1 million on agency staff.

Adrian Loades, executive director of children, families and adults services, said he was worried that this expense will only increase and he added that agency workers were only intended as a “short term solution” though they are now over relied upon.

He said: “Because the recruitment and retention issues are worsening and the use of agency staff is increasing, the financial position will continue to deteriorate in the next few years if we do not take the appropriate steps.”

To tackle the issue, regional authorities have agreed to cap pay rates for both adults and children’s agency social workers, but Mr Loades doesn’t think this will fix the problem.


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Low pay rates and unsure stability are being blamed for the “increasing challenge” according to Mr Loades.

Reports show that there are a total of 456 full time equivalent social work posts, however the CFA currently employ just 386 permanent social work staff.

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As of June, there are 69 full time vacancies in the social work field, which have not been filled.

Mr Loades said of the 15% vacancy rate: “This is a significant risk to safeguarding the welfare of children, families and adults and the ability to meet Cambridgeshire County Council’s statutory responsibilities.”

Mr Loades fears that agency staff will have to be paid significantly higher rates and said “maintaining the current situation is not an option.”

The report indicates that eight out of 19 relevant leavers record salary as a main or contributing factor for leaving.

It further states that agency children’s social workers can be paid up to £78,000 per year by Cambridgeshire County Council – double the salary of a full time worker.

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