Strengthening recruitment and retention of children’s social workers in London

  • By Jim Ranger

London boroughs have signed an agreement to work together to address long-standing issues relating to the recruitment and retention of children’s social work professionals.

Many boroughs experience significant challenges in recruiting and retaining permanent staff to children’s social work roles and this results in high numbers of agency staff being retained. 

Across London, 22 boroughs have now signed an agreement to work together on issues such as pay, training and development, supporting new professionals to develop their careers, and to work with agencies to improve quality and reduce cost.

The agreement has been developed by the Chief Executive’s London Committee (CELC) which comprises the chief executives of all the London boroughs.

Barry Quirk, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Lewisham and the Workforce Lead for CELC, said: “Boroughs have recognised that a more collaborative approach is the best way forward, to improve the number and quality of social work professionals, whilst avoiding competition between boroughs which drives instability in service delivery, and additional cost.”

Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Bexley and Chair of CELC, said: “The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding by the boroughs signals our determination to work together to solve the recruitment challenges that we haven’t been able to solve individually.

“We want to support social work professionals to have long and fulfilling careers as permanent employees enjoying great training, support and career progression in London.  We are doing this so that children and families in London are safe and thrive with the assistance of dedicated and highly-skilled social work professionals.”

Tolis Vouyioukas, Strategic Director of People Services of the London Borough of Sutton, said: "The workforce challenges in children's social care across London are considerable. This collaboration between local authorities and agency providers is vital in continuing to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care for vulnerable children."

The coming months will see further discussions with agencies to bring them on board with the new approach. In addition, detailed work is underway on a common approach to references and the potential of a cap on agency pay rates.