Torbay social worker incentive of £1k

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Staff at a council in Devon are to be given a £1,000 incentive to recommend qualified social workers to the council.

Torbay Council said it hoped to fill the 40% of social worker posts which were vacant.

The council said it had 30 staff jobs which were currently filled by agency staff at an annual cost of £1m.

A Children's Improvement Board (CIB) report said the Torbay area had the fifth highest need for social care.

Councillor Chris Lewis, who is responsible for children, families and schools in Torbay, said: "We've gone through the normal route of trying to recruit, it hasn't worked, so we're putting a package together.

'Drain on resources'

"What we're saying to staff is 'if you know someone up country who is looking for a job we'll give you an incentive to encourage them to come down'."

The council said the £1,000 would be paid out on the one year anniversary of the employee starting work, although no fee had yet been awarded.

Mr Lewis said the council was short of experienced staff and agency staff were a "drain on resources and not good for moral" and the initiative was part of a "spend to save" strategy.

Ruth Cartwright, manager of the British Association of Social Workers, said: "Nationally, there isn't a shortage of social workers so I do wonder quite what's going on in Torbay.

"Maybe if Torbay was receptive to taking on a number of newly qualified social workers and giving them the care and support they need then maybe that would be the answer."

The CIB report said the levels of deprivation in Torbay had increased and were "second only to Bristol in the South West".

It said the high percentage of children in need of social care put the area among the top five authorities in England.

Devon County Council said it was short of 11% of social workers.

Plymouth City Council said 4% of its quota was vacant. It said it offered candidates relocation packages to move to Plymouth.

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