Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham council to recruit 40 new social workers

Rotherham Town Hall Image copyright Google
Image caption An inquiry by Alexis Jay found 1,400 children were abused by gangs of men in Rotherham

Rotherham council is recruiting 40 new social workers to try to reduce its agency staff bill.

The move, which will cut costs by £1.3m over the next five years, comes after damning criticism in reports following the child exploitation scandal in 2013.

Commissioners who were sent in to run the council's failing children's services launched the recruitment drive earlier this year.

They have already recruited 22 social workers and aim to recruit 19 more.

The authority was taken over in February 2015 after it was declared "not fit for purpose" over its handling of child sexual exploitation in the town.

Agency social workers were brought in to bring caseloads down for social workers. But now the authority wants to recruit its own social workers to "reduce cost" and to create "a permanent stable workforce."

'Thankless task'

Council director Ian Thomas said Rotherham had "real serious issues" following Professor Jay's report into the scandal and Ofsted inspections.

"It's a thankless task in many respects," Mr Thomas said.

"You are damned if you do, damned if you don't, to coin a phrase.

"Children's social workers can often be labelled as child snatchers when they remove children, but then when children aren't removed and something goes wrong, they're vilified as well."

Mr Thomas said the council had a "national challenge" to attract social workers and added the government was introducing initiatives to help.

He added: "We have worrying national statistics - a third of new entrants into children's social work will leave in the first two years. That rises to 58% in five years, so we need to reverse that trend."

Mr Thomas added that they would like to keep some of the agency staff to help "facilitate" the new recruits.

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